Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume III
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume III

Developments in Major Fields of Economics

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume III contains entries on the development of major fields in economics from the inception of systematic analysis until modern times. The reader is provided with succinct summary accounts of the main problems, the methods used to address them and the results obtained across time. The emphasis is on both the continuity and the major changes that have occurred in the economic analysis of problematic issues such as economic growth, income distribution, employment, inflation, business cycles and financial instability. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 26: Labour and employment

Antonella Stirati


The problem of employment is a central topic in economic thought. Economists of all traditions and schools have always admitted short-run fluctuations in aggregate employment levels associated with the business cycle and explained them with reference to a variety of factors. Yet the central question is, of course, fluctuations around what longrun level of employment? Concerning the replies to this question provided in the course of the history of economic thought, there is often a good deal of misapprehension among economists, to which John Maynard Keynes himself contributed, by attributing to all his predecessors from David Ricardo to Arthur Cecil Pigou (with few exceptions including Thomas Robert Malthus and Karl Marx) the view that both Say’s law and full employment hold. Yet things are not so simple, and Keynes’s definition of “classical” economists must be questioned in the light of recent developments in economic theory and the history of economic thought.

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