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Interdependence and independence in Cantillon's Essai

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Cantillon's contribution to economic thought is widely understood to lie in his systematic examination of economic interconnectedness. The model developed here brings profits fully into price determination, casts additional light on Cantillon's treatment of distribution, and provides the first extended analysis of the policy recommendations found in part one of his Essai. These anti-urban policies are examined in relation to French urbanization and William Petty's analysis of Irish economic development. Entrepreneurial risk-bearing is central to the Essai and this model, yet for Cantillon landlord tastes determine the economy's equilibrium position. This view is mirrored in his treatment of class mobility: only by becoming landed proprietors can entrepreneurs escape dependence and become independent or autonomous determiners of society. Indeed, social mobility actually accounts for the 'independence' of the landed proprietors as a group. Rent's special role stems not so much from the nature of land or agriculture - as Physiocracy would emphasize - as from the nature of the social forces determining its ownership.
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Keywords: Cantillon; Petty; classical economics; demography; income distribution

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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