The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Market Period

  • D. R. Helm
Reference work entry


The concept of market period was introduced by Marshall to define markets according to the time period over which they extended. It was thus an additional classification of markets to that of location or space (Principles, V.i.6). This distinction became the modern textbook one between the short period and the long, reducing Marshall’s more complex three-period classification. As he put it,

we shall find that if the period is short, the supply is limited to the stores which happen to be at hand; if the period is long, the supply will be influenced, more or less, by the cost of producing the commodity in question; and if the period is very long, this cost will in its turn be influenced, more or less, by the cost of producing the labour and material things required for producing the commodity.

Hence the short run is that period for which stocks are constant, the long run that period where price is determined by the costs of production (but factors are constant) and the very long run that period where all factors vary.


Expectations Imperfect competition IS–LM Long run and short run Market period New classic macroeconomics Perfect foresight Perfect markets Rational expectations Temporary equilibria 

JEL Classifications

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  1. Harrod, R. 1934. Doctrines of imperfect competition. Quarterly Journal of Economics 48: 442–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  3. Hicks, J.R. 1965. The method of Marshall. In Capital and growth, ed. J.R. Hicks. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  4. Marshall, A. 1920. Principles of economics. 8th ed. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. R. Helm
    • 1
  1. 1.