The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Classical Economics and Economic Growth

  • Gavin Cameron
Reference work entry


The classical economists dealt with many of the issues now addressed by modern growth theories, albeit with different theoretical tools and with different perspectives. Classical analyses of the division of labour, population growth, and the difficulties when factors are in fixed supply, continue to have modern applications. However, the models they developed ran into difficulties after the ‘marginalist revolution’, when it became apparent that sustained technical change, abstinence and thrift by the labouring classes, and factor substitution might forestall the arrival of the stationary state.


Balanced growth Capital accumulation Classical economics Classical economics and economic growth Diminishing returns Distribution theory Division of labour Economic growth Falling rate of profit Fertility Human capital Industrial Revolution Labour supply Luxury Malthus, T. R. Marginalist revolution Marx, K.H. Mill, J. S. Mortality Population growth Productive and unproductive labour Ricardo, D. Say, J.-B. Smith, A. Stationary state Technical change Value theory 

JEL Classification

B1 O4 Q3 
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The author would like to thank Robert Allen, Julia Cartwright, Mary Dixon-Woods, Marcel Fafchamps, Nicholas Fawcett, Andrew Glyn, Mark Koyama, Silvia Palano, and Jonathan Temple for helpful comments on a preliminary draft.


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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gavin Cameron
    • 1
  1. 1.