The Return to Increasing Returns

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Overview

The wealth of a nation depends on the division of labor, and the division of labor depends on the extent of the market. Adam Smith advanced this proposition in 1776, but neoclassical economists, in particular, have had difficulty incorporating it into conventional models. Increasing returns, as related to the size of the market nexus, have never found a secure place in economic theory, despite early efforts by Adam Smith, Alfred Marshall, and Allyn Young. The neoclassical theory of distribution, developed in the last decades of the nineteenth century, relies on the postulate that in equilibrium there exist constant returns to scale, not only in particular firms and industries, but in the economy as a whole. As general equilibrium theory developed, emphasis was shifted to the properties of equilibrium, to the proofs of its existence, and to the attributes of welfare. The possibility of increasing returns represented an analytical "monkey wrench" thrown in the whole neoclassical structure. Thus, the neglect of increasing returns may have been methodologically understandable - if scientifically scandalous. Only in recent years has the increasing returns postulate returned to the mainstream through analyses of endogenous growth, international trade, unemployment, and the economics of ethics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472104321
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/1994
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Return to Increasing Returns: An Introductory Summary 3
2 From The Wealth of Nations 17
3 Correlation of the Tendencies to Increasing and to Diminishing Returns 29
4 Increasing Returns and Economic Progress 33
5 The Division of Labor Is Limited by the Extent of the Market 47
6 Economics and Biology: Specialization and Speciation 61
7 The Division of Labor in the Economy, the Polity, and Society 69
8 The Irrelevance of Equilibrium Economics 85
9 Interregional Trade and Cumulative Causation 107
10 External Economies of Scale and Competitive Equilibrium 121
11 Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity 167
12 The Assumption of Constant Returns to Scale 189
13 National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade 203
14 Increasing Returns, Monopolistic Competition, and International Trade 229
15 Comparative Advantage and Long-Run Growth 241
16 Increasing Returns and the Foundations of Unemployment Theory 251
17 Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization 275
18 Endogenous Technological Change 287
19 Specialization and a New Approach to Economic Organization and Growth 319
20 The Supply of Labor and the Extent of the Market 331
21 Increasing Returns, Parametric Work-Supply Adjustment, and the Work Ethic 343
22 Conclusion and Summary 359
Author Index 367
Subject Index 373
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