The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Robert L. Heilbroner
Reference work entry


Capitalism is a unique historical formation with core institutions and distinct movements. It involves the rise of a mercantile class, the separation of production from the state, and a mentality of rational calculation. Its characteristic logic revolving around the accumulation of capital reflects the omnipresence of competition. It displays broad tendencies to unprecedented wealth creation, skewed size distributions of enterprise, large public sectors, and cycles of activity. Whereas students of capitalism traditionally envisaged an end to the capitalist period of history, modern economists show little interest in historical projection.


Baran, P. Bentham, J. Braudel, F. Capital Capital accumulation Capitalism Commodities Comparative systems approach Competition Economic freedom Employment contract Engels, F. English Revolution Exchange value Feudalism French Revolution Hirschman, A. Ideology Inequality Keynes, J. Labour Labour power Locke, J. Marshall, T. Marx, K. Mercantilism Mill, J. S. Morality Myrdal, G. Polanyi, K. Political economy Political freedom Pre-capitalist social formations Private property Profit Property rights Public expenditure Public sector Quasi-rent Religion Ricardo, D. Role of the state Schumpeter, J. Smith, A. Socialism Surplus value Use value Veblen, T. Weber, M. 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Heilbroner
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