The Accumulation of Capital

Luigi Lodovico Pasinetti

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


The accumulation of valuable material things, is something that has taken place in human societies since time immemorial. The article raises the question: is there any relevant difference between the accumulation of individuals’ wealth through the ownership of precious metals and durable consumption goods, and the accumulation of individuals’ wealth through the ownership of means of production? Much of unorthodox economics has always stressed the difference as a consequence of its attempts to separate individuals’ actions from their implications for the economic system as a whole. The analysis undertaken by the author shows quite clearly that the economic systems in which production is carried out with the use of capital goods (as opposed to more primitive economic systems in which the use of the means of production is negligible) have acquired new features of social relevance. In order to carry on and expand the production process while maintaining full employment of the working population and full utilization of productive capacity, they must continually renew the existing stock of capital goods and they must fulfil two necessary conditions, which refer no longer to the single individuals but to the economic system as a whole. One condition regards the overall level of global effective demand. The other condition concerns the process of capital accumulation. Through the analysis provided in the Article, the Author concludes that the attitude of the community as a whole towards the ownership of capital goods cannot be the same as its attitude towards the ownership of durable consumption goods. For, while the accumulation of durable consumption goods has no overall relevance and is a matter that may be left to the decision of single individuals, the process of the accumulation of capital goods is essential to the working of the whole production process and therefore cannot but be a matter of concern for the economic system as a whole. No industrial society can avoid facing the social implications of the process of capital accumulation.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)405-411
Numero di pagine7
RivistaCambridge Journal of Economics
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 1983


  • A growing economic system
  • Accumulation of capital
  • Accumulation of purchasing power
  • Hoarded consumption goods and stocks of capital goods
  • Stationary economic system


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