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Smith, Marshall and Young on division of labour and economic growth

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The aim of this paper is to reconstruct the theory of division of labour and economic growth proposed by Adam Smith and developed by Alfred Marshall and Allyn Young. In their approach division of labour is the main engine of growth and plays a central role in capital accumulation and technological progress. We suggest that, according to their theory: 1) economic growth is endogenous; 2) it has the nature of a cumulative, path-dependent process; and 3) it can be described as a disequilibrium process, supported by competitive forces. We argue that these aspects make the contributions of Smith, Marshall and Young still insightful for the development of growth theory, even in the light of the modern approach of endogenous growth theory.
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Keywords: Adam Smith; Alfred Marshall; Allyn Young; division of labour; economic growth; new growth theory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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