Demographic Changes, Pension Reforms, and Absolute Surplus Value: Intertemporal Exploitation in Contemporary Capitalism?

  • Marcelo Milan


This article proposes a Marxist interpretation of contemporary demographic changes and pension system reforms. The former, which have been happening since the first industrial revolution, including population aging and reduced birth rates, can potentially make it difficult for capital to replenish the labor force necessary for exploitation and accumulation at a proper rate in many countries. This possibility has important consequences for the production and reproduction of value and surplus value, insofar as it affects the inflow and outflow of different types of labor power in the circuit of industrial capital as well as the redistribution of social labor by means of taxes and government transfers. Reforming pension systems by increasing the minimum retirement age helps to keep the flow of labor power into the circuit of capital for a longer time, but with a different composition of the labor force, with more experienced workers. This work investigates whether this increased working lifetime of laborers could be seen as a form of intertemporal absolute surplus-value extraction by the equally aging capitalist class.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Milan
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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