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The most important conclusion of Marx's theory of capitalism is that the rate of profit would tend to decline as a result of technological change. This book presents a rigorous empirical test of this all-important conclusion by deriving estimates of the Marxian rate of profit and its determinants (the composition of capital and the rate of surplus-value) for the post-World War II US economy in order to determine whether the trends in these variables were in the direction predicted by Marx's theory. Given the long and continuing controversy over this conclusion of Marx's theory, this rigorous empirical test should be of the considerable interest. This book also extends Marx's theory to provide an original explanation of the significant decline in the conventionally-defined rate of profit in the postwar US economy: that this decline was due primarily to a very significant increase in the relative proportion of unproductive labour during this period. This explanation has important implications for the likely future trend of the rate of profit and thus for the likelihood of a full and lasting recovery from the economic crisis of the 1970s-80s.
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