The Economic Surplus: Theory, Measurement, Applications

By Anders Danielson | Go to book overview

3
Making Surplus Visible: A National Accounts Approach

It was demonstrated in Chapter 2 how the concept of surplus was used in Classical Political Economy and it was suggested that the concept may prove useful for analyzing the causes of economic growth. This chapter 1 examines some recent attempts to construct a measure of the surplus, and an Alternative method of measuring surplus is developed. The "surplus approach" 2 utilizes mainly national accounts. A number of studies, to which references are given in the following, have attempted to construct measures of the economic surplus. Without exception, these studies have relied on material not generally available for underdeveloped countries--such as information on the number of pure rentiers in rural areas. These studies may have their merits, but it is rather difficult to render them comparable to other studies or to repeat them for different time periods. The major advantages of relying on national accounts are, first, that such statistics are often compiled according to the United Nations' Systems of National Accounts (SNA), thus making international comparisons possible and, second, that national accounts are published rather regularly, thus making it possible to study the development of the surplus over time (which, typically, is impossible using the "rare data" method).

Since the publication in 1957 of Paul Baran The Political Economy of Growth, a number of studies have attempted to operationalize the hypotheses and test the propositions generated in this and the companion volume by Baran and Paul Sweezy ( 1966). In particular, the attempts have been to produce an operationable definition of "surplus." This is an important subject, both because Baran's hypotheses are sufficiently interesting and provoking to deserve close scrutiny and because--as was argued in Chapter 2--surplus as an analytical concept may assist in the analysis of the causes and cures of underdevelopment. As will be argued, however, neither Baran's nor the other studies' surplus concepts are very useful for empirical analysis.

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The Economic Surplus: Theory, Measurement, Applications
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figure and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • I - Introduction 1
  • 1: Surplus and Economic Development 3
  • II - Theory and Measurement 11
  • 2 - The Role of Surplus in Classical Political Economy 13
  • Notes 27
  • 3 - Making Surplus Visible: A National Accounts Approach 29
  • Notes 43
  • 4 - Accumulation and the Agricultural Surplus 47
  • Notes 61
  • III - An Application: Jamaica under Manley 63
  • 5 - Size and Distribution of the Surplus 65
  • APPENDIX TO CHAPTER 5: SOURCES AND QUALITY OF DATA 78
  • APPENDIX TO CHAPTER 5: SOURCES AND QUALITY OF DATA 79
  • Mechanisms of Stagnation 81
  • APPENDIX TO CHAPTER 6: SURPLUS ACROSS COUNTRIES AND OVER TIME 92
  • 7 - The Role of Interest Groups 101
  • Notes 123
  • IV - Concluding Observations 127
  • 8: Is Surplus Obsolete? 129
  • References 137
  • Index 147
  • About the Author 153
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