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‘Cold, Calculating Political Economy’: Fixed costs, the Rate of Profit and the Length of the Working Day in the Factory Act Debates, 1832-1847

Steven Toms ()

MPRA Paper from University Library of Munich, Germany

Abstract: The paper re-analyses the evidence presented by pro and anti-regulation interests during the debates on factory reform. To do so it considers the interrelationship between fixed costs, the rate of profit and the length of the working day. The interrelationship casts new light on the lobbying positions on either side of the debate. It does so by comparing the evidence presented in the debates before parliament and associated pamphlets with actual figures contained in the business records of implicated firms. As a result the paper identifies the compromise position of the working day length compatible with reasonable rates of profit based on actual cost structures. It is thereby able to reinterpret the validity of the claims of contemporary political economy used to support the cases for and against factory regulation.

Keywords: Factory Acts; working hours; rate of profit; cost structure; accounting records (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J21 J31 L50 L67 M4 N4 N44 N8 O14 O15 O38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-hme and nep-pol
Date: 2014-03-13
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