Decomposing Surplus-Value: An Analysis of Distribution and Unproductive Labour of the UK Economy, 1992-2020
Bruce Philp and
No 21, CAFE Working Papers from Centre for Applied Finance and Economics (CAFE), Birmingham City Business School, Birmingham City University
This article examines the trajectory of the surplus value (SV) rate in the UK economy, in the period 1992–2020, using ONS macroeconomic data (Blue Book) and micro-datasets (Understanding Society). We initially define productive and unproductive labour, proposing a “Marxist Productive Labour Classification System”, framed in critical context. Standard occupational (SOC) and standard industrial (SIC) codes are uniquely combined, using UK data, to derive empirical estimates of Marxian categories, specifically an aggregate model based on the New Interpretation framework. Then, movements in this rate are examined in terms of absolute and relative SV changes. We find that, prior to the 2008 Crisis, SV extraction is more reliant on production-related drivers, while after this dislocation SV is more reliant on the sphere of distribution, with the pandemic impacting all drivers negatively.
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