[OPE-L:7275] [OPE-L:803] Re: Re: TSS and the Okishio Theorem

Duncan K. Foley (dkf2@columbia.edu)
Tue, 30 Mar 1999 12:44:19 -0500

Paul's OPE-L: 750 said:

>>3. In real history, real wages aren't constant, but rise at about the same
>>rate as labor productivity, giving rise to a roughly constant value of
>>labor-power. Marx analyzes the falling rate of profit on the basis of the
>>hypothesis of a constant value of labor-power, not a constant real wage.
>>When the value of labor power is constant, technical change that is
>>labor-saving and capital-using will lower the rate of profit on new
>Not so convinced of this. All of the long period time series that
>I have constructed for Britain indicate a rising rate of surplus
>One time series from 1855 to 1910 shows it rising from 1.04 to 1.35
>Another from 1920 to 1938 shows a rise from 1.27 to 2.25
>A third series from 1948 to 1969 shows a rise from 1.08 to 1.43
>A final series from 1970 to 1989 shows a rise from 0.55 to 1.83
>The discontinuities reflect different sources available for the
>periods which enforce somewhat different modes of calculation.
>However, the trends are consistent, and indicate that the value
>of labour power tends to decline over a scale of decades.
>Paul Cockshott

I've actually found a rising rate of surplus value in series that are based
on particular sectors of the U.S. economy, like Manufacturing, too. What
remains "roughly" constant is the aggregate wage share in national income
(and the "roughly" needs to be emphasized, because there are significant
temporal and geographical variations). An interesting question is how a
rising rate of surplus value at the firm and sectoral levels could
aggregate up to a more or less constant wage share.

The point I was making, however, doesn't depend on a constant rate of
surplus value, or constant value of labor-power. The profit rate
(simultaneist!) can fall with labor-saving, capital-using technical change
can fall even if the value of labor-power also falls, as long as it doesn't
fall too much. One condition for "too much" is Okishio's assumption of a
constant real wage.


Duncan K. Foley
Department of Economics
Graduate Faculty
New School University
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