The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Surplus Approach to Value and Distribution

  • Pierangelo Garegnani
Reference work entry


When we look back over two centuries of economic analysis we find that we can distinguish two successive approaches to the theory of distribution and relative prices. The modern approach was preceded by one which had at its centre a notion of ‘social surplus’. This earlier ‘classical’ or ‘surplus’ approach, as it has been called, had its beginnings with writers like William Petty and Richard Cantillon, found its first systematic expression in Quesnay’s Tableau Economique of 1758, became dominant with the classical economists from Adam Smith to Ricardo, and was then taken over and developed by Marx at a time when the main stream of economic analysis was already moving in a different direction.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierangelo Garegnani
    • 1
  1. 1.