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THE CONTRIBUTION OF ROBERT TORRENS TO RICARDO’S THEORY OF NATURAL WAGE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 April 2018

Olivier Rosell
Affiliation:
University of Picardie.

Abstract

This paper reconsiders the anteriority of Robert Torrens’s theory of natural wage to that of David Ricardo. Ricardo was influenced by Torrens’s thinking when writing the chapter on “Wages” of the Principles. For many historians of economic thought, this influence is limited to Torrens’s focus on the socio-cultural aspect of necessity goods, which determine the natural price of labor. While this interpretation is consistent with that of Ricardo, we argue that the anteriority of Torrens to Ricardo more generally focuses on the method used by the latter to justify the indexation of money wages on the money price of subsistence goods. Finally, this paper shows that the tribute paid to Torrens by Ricardo paradoxically explains posterity’s misunderstanding of his theory.

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Copyright © The History of Economics Society 2018 

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