The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Absolute and Exchangeable Value

  • John Eatwell
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_614

Abstract

The notion of absolute (as distinct from exchangeable or relative) value arises in classical economics from the image of a given magnitude of output being distributed between the social classes. Ricardo posited that the value of the social surplus could be expressed in terms of labour regardless of how the surplus was distributed. But since changes in distribution affect exchangeable value, the value of the surplus will typically vary as distribution varies, even though its physical magnitude remains unchanged. In 1823 Ricardo concluded that ‘there is no such thing in nature as a perfect measure of value’.

Keywords

Absolute and exchangeable value Cairnes, F. E. Cairnes, J. E. Class Classical economics Invariable standard of value Labour theory of value Marx, K.H. Rate of profit Ricardo, D. Sraffa, P. Surplus 

JEL Classifications

D0 
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Bibliography

  1. Marx, K. 1883. Capital. Vol. 3. London: Lawrence and Wishart. 1976.Google Scholar
  2. Ricardo, D. 1820. Letter to J.R. McCulloch, 13 June 1820. In Works and correspondence of David Ricardo. Vol. 8, ed. P. Sraffa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953.Google Scholar
  3. Ricardo, D. 1823. Paper on ‘Absolute and exchangeable value’ (rough draft, and unfinished clean version). In Works and correspondence of David Ricardo. Vol. 4, ed. P. Sraffa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951.Google Scholar
  4. Sraffa, P. 1951. Introduction to works and correspondence of David Ricardo. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Sraffa, P. 1960. Production of commodities by means of commodities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Eatwell
    • 1
  1. 1.