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Unproductive accumulation in the United States: a new analytical framework

Unproductive accumulation in the United States: a new analytical framework

Rotta, Tomas N ORCID: 0000-0002-5304-9890 (2018) Unproductive accumulation in the United States: a new analytical framework. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 42 (5). pp. 1367-1392. ISSN 0309-166X (Print), 1464-3545 (Online) (doi:

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In this paper I offer an innovative analysis of unproductive accumulation in the United States economy from 1947 to 2011. I develop a new theoretical and empirical framework to analyze the accumulation of capital in its productive and unproductive forms. I also develop a methodology to compute Marxist categories predicated on the idea that the production of knowledge and information is an unproductive activity that relies on the creation of knowledge-rents. In particular, I provide new empirical estimates to uncover the shifting balance between productive and unproductive forms of accumulation. The accumulation pattern observed during the 1947-1979 phase that prioritized productive accumulation gave way after the 1980s to a contrasting pattern prioritizing unproductive accumulation. Unproductive activity has been growing at a fast pace in terms of incomes, fixed assets, and employment. Among all forms of unproductive activity, my approach places special attention on how the production of knowledge and information has constituted a rising share of total unproductive income and capital stock. Additionally, productive stagnation and rapid unproductive accumulation have been related to greater exploitation of productive workers and to widening income inequality.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: unproductive activity, capital accumulation, exploitation, inequality, stagnation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2020 15:10

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