The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Peter Groenewegen
Reference work entry


A term devised by Edwin Cannan (1893) to distinguish the analysis of ‘wages per head, profits per cent and rent per acre’ (pseudo-distribution) from what he called) ‘distribution proper’ or analysis of ‘division of the whole produce between aggregate wages, aggregate profits and aggregate rents’ (Cannan 1893, p. 267). Cannan’s argument in support of this distinction had both historical and analytical aspects while he also argued (1905) that it conformed to the meaning of ‘division’ ordinarily assigned to the word) ‘distribution’, in which ‘a change in distribution’, for instance, is taken to mean ‘a change in the proportions in which the total is divided’.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen
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