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Sraffa and von Neumann

Heinz Kurz () and Neri Salvadori ()

Review of Political Economy, 2001, vol. 13, issue 2, 161-180

Abstract: This paper discusses the relationship between Piero Sraffa's 1960 book and John von Neumann's 1937 paper on economic growth in the light of some of the material contained in Sraffa's unpublished papers and correspondence. It is argued that the two contributions share a similar outlook and exhibit conceptual parallels; in fact, they can both be said to belong to the 'classical' approach to the theory of value and distribution. The latter is characterized, among other things, by an asymmetric treatment of the distributive variables, the rate of return on capital and the real wage rate. Sraffa's papers show that when he came across the von Neumann model in the mid-1940s his own analysis was already quite advanced, including his analysis of joint production. The paper also contains an exchange of letters between John Richard Hicks and Sraffa on some of the issues dealt with in the latter's book.

Date: 2001
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DOI: 10.1080/09538250120036628

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