Review of Keynesian Economics

Joan Robinson's Accumulation of Capital after 60 years

J.E. King * *

Keywords: accumulation, capital distribution, equilibrium, growth, technical change, welfare


Joan Robinson's magnum opus, The Accumulation of Capital, was published 60 years ago, in 1956. I begin this diamond jubilee assessment by explaining the intellectual background to the book, placing Robinson's attempt to ‘generalise the General Theory’ in the context of the contemporary work of Harrod, Kaldor and Kalecki. I then provide a brief summary of the eight parts of the book before focusing on the analytical core, the analysis of ‘accumulation in the long run’ that is provided in Book II. Next I outline the critical reception of the book in the late 1950s and Robinson's reaction to it, both then and later in her career. I conclude by documenting the rather limited influence of The Accumulation of Capital in the longer term, even among heterodox economists, and conclude that the book was a noble failure.

Author Notes

I am very grateful for helpful comments from an anonymous referee.

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