International Trade and Economic Growth in Open Economies

International Trade and Economic Growth in Open Economies

The Classical Dynamics of Hume, Smith, Ricardo and Malthus

John Berdell

In this enlightening book, John Berdell addresses the widely-held belief that classical economics distanced itself from policy issues and public debates regarding the effects of international trade on economic growth in advanced economies. He argues, through a detailed consideration of the evolution and structure of Hume’s, Smith’s, Ricardo’s and Malthus’ analyses, that it is not only contemporary international economic theory which takes account of these issues.

Chapter 4: Stability and Openness: the Malthus–Ricardo Debate

John Berdell

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought, international economics


Stability and Openness: the Malthus-Ricardo Debate I Advanced Economies Malthus was first and foremost a theorist of ‘civilized’, ‘comparatively rich’, ‘happy’, ‘advanced’, ‘well peopled’, or simply ‘old’ countries. Despite his frequent comparisons to the human body, an old state need not suffer illness and infirmity.73That ‘old’ and ‘well peopled’ nations could be ‘happy’ and ‘rich’ may surprise readers who associate Malthus with inevitable subsistence crises-or the view that ‘the secular tendency of real wages was likely to be flat, if not tending downwards’ (Wrigley, 1987, 31).7‘ A generally optimistic Malthus appears in this chapter as I shall argue that he was engaged in a rigorous and public debate with Ricardo in which each laid claim to the most effective policy for secularly improving material conditions among the mass of Britons. Keynes’s Essay in Biography persuasively portrays this debate as the defining moment within nineteenth-century macroeconomic thought.” Rightly so, yet their conflicting analyses of the proximate causes of slow economic growth reflected wider-ranging disagreements over the present and future consequences of Britain’s increasing reliance upon foreign markets for both its sales and its subsistence. 73 Reference to volumes I1 and I11 of The Works o Thornus Robert hfaltbus (Ad) is f accompanied by the pagination of the 1826 sixth (and final) edition of the Essay, reference to volumes V and VI by the pagination of the second (and posthumous 1836) edition of the Principles. 74 England, France, Italy, and Germany are ‘tolerably well peopled’, ‘old’, and ‘more improved’ (M3, 486;...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information