The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Marxian Transformation Problem

  • Duncan Foley
  • Gérard Duménil
Reference work entry


The transformation problem relates the labour theory of value and the competitive equalization of the rate of profit. Marx distinguishes the production of surplus-value from its redistribution through prices. Critics claim that the labour theory of value is an unnecessary detour to the determination of prices because total value and surplus-value are not conserved. The Single-System Labour Theory of Value (SS-LTV) argues that at any prices (1) the price of the net product expresses the labour expended, and (2) total profits are the price form of surplus-value, because the value of labour-power is the labour time equivalent of the wage.


Capitalist law of exchange Commodity law of exchange Constant and variable capital Dual system Exploitation Fundamental Marxian Theorem Gravitation Labour power Labour theory of value Labour time Marx, K. H. Marxian transformation problem Monetary expression of value or labour time Natural price Net product ‘New interpretation’ of labour theory of value Profit, rate of Ricardo, D. Single-system labour theory of value Smith, A. Surplus-value Transformation problem Value Value added Value of labour-power Variable capital 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Duménil, G. 1980. De la valeur aux prix de production. Paris: Economica.Google Scholar
  2. Duménil, G. 1983. Beyond the transformation riddle: A labor theory of value. Science and Society 47: 427–450.Google Scholar
  3. Duménil, G. 1984. The so-called ‘transformation problem’ revisited: A brief comment. Journal of Economic Theory 33: 340–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Duménil, G., and D. Lévy. 1984. The unifying formalism of domination: Value, price, distribution and growth in joint production. Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie 44: 349–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Foley, D.K. 1982. The value of money, the value of labor power, and the Marxian transformation problem. Review of Radical Political Economics 14(2): 37–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Foley, D.K. 2000. Recent developments in the labor theory of value. Review of Radical Political Economy 32(1): 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Freeman, A., and G. Carchedi, ed. 1996. Marx and non-equilibrium economics. Brookfield, Vermont: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  8. Garegnani, P. 1984. Value and distribution in the classical economists and Marx. Oxford Economic Papers 26: 291–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lipietz, A. 1982. The ‘so-called transformation problem’ revisited. Journal of Economic Theory 26: 59–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Marx, K. 1981. Capital, vols. 1, 2, and 2. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  11. Morishima, M. 1973. Marx’s economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Moseley, F. 2000. The new solution to the transformation problem: A sympathetic critique. Review of Radical Political Economics 32: 282–316.Google Scholar
  13. Samuelson, P.A. 1971. Understanding the Marxian notion of exploitation: A summary of the so-called transformation problem between Marxian values and competitive prices. Journal of Economic Literature 9: 399–431.Google Scholar
  14. Sraffa, P. 1960. Production of commodities by means of commodities: Prelude to a critique of economic theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Steedman, I. 1977. Marx after Sraffa. London: New Left Books.Google Scholar
  16. von Bortkiewicz, L. 1952. Value and price in the Marxian system. International Economic Papers 1952(2): 5–60.Google Scholar
  17. von Böhm-Bawerk, E. 1890. Capital and interest, 1957. New York: Kelley and Millman.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Duncan Foley
    • 1
  • Gérard Duménil
    • 1
  1. 1.