[OPE-L:5511] RE: Empirical work

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 10:00:58 -0700 (PDT)

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Re Lefteris's [5510]:

Excellent (i.e. thought-provoking) post! Hopefully, it will stimulate
more discussion on empirical studies.

I was wondering: how would you (and others on the list) answer the
following questions from Simon's [5469]?

In solidarity, Jerry
Suppose we are interested in empirical measures for the economy as a whole
of (1) the rate of surplus value (s/v) and (2) the composition of capital
(c/v for the sake of argument; or, as in Duncan's book, s/v, v/(c+v) and
(c+v)/K where K is the capital stock).

1. Suppose the proportion of productive to unproductive labour is not
changing rapidly. Should any adjustment be made to capital stock figures?
Or would you assume that the time trend of the non-residential structures,
and plant and machinery, that productive labour works with can be
(reasonably adequately) captured by some sort of c/v ratio where v is total
wages excluding general government wages?

2. Same question, but suppose the proportion of productive to unproductive
labour is changing rapidly (as seems to be the case in the UK in the late
1970s/early 1980s) Then what? If variable capital is the total wages of
productive labour, what capital stock does this labour work with? And how
can I get any empirical estimate of it? Or should I sidestep the problem
with some sort of decomposition like
r=(s/v)*(v/total wages)*(total wages/total capital advanced)*(total capital