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On the Influence of Classical Economics on the Development of Population Economic Theory

编辑: 毕业论文 Release time: 2016-08-18 Editor: Graduation thesis

Abstract: The theory of population economy occupies a relatively important position in the classical economics. Smith and Ricardo both discussed population issues in more detail in their respective distribution theories. The author analyzes the population issue of the classical economics with the labor value theory as the main line, and expounds the economic theory of the relationship between population and wealth, and population and income. At the same time, the realistic roots and theoretical basis of anti-demographicism represented by Malthus were analyzed.

Thesis Keywords: Classical School Population Theory Labor Value Theory Diminishing Returns

I. William Petty's Thoughts on Population Economy

Classical economics was born in the early days of the capitalist mode of production. Its founder, William Petty, began to discuss population issues. Petty put forward the famous idea of labor creation value, holding that "land is the mother of wealth and labor is the father of wealth", so that land and human labor are regarded as the two major elements that constitute social and economic life. However, William Petty's investigation of population is not limited to the number of people, but it is examined from the perspective of the working population. This is mainly based on the idea that his large population can increase government revenue. Petty believes that the productive population is an important factor in a country's wealth growth. But this kind of population associated with wealth growth is not simply a population, but a population with a certain economic quality. He believes that the scale of a country's wealth depends on the population, diligence and skill level. Since the population of a country is stable for a certain period of time, the proportion of the number of people engaged in productive labor in the total population deserves attention. According to this idea, Petty actually divides the population of a country into two categories. The first category is people who are engaged in the production of material wealth or goods of practical utility and value to the country, and those who do not produce them, including land. Farmers, craftsmen, also Yuanyuan, superiors, soldiers; the second category includes doctors, monks, lawyers, government officials, etc. He advocated limiting the number of people in the second category and increasing the number of people in the first category to increase the wealth of a country. "A sparse population is true poverty. A country with 8 million people will have twice as much wealth as a country with the same area but only 4 million people. For the same ruler, The cost of governing a larger population is similar to that of a smaller population. "

The reason why William Petty's population thought regarded the number of productive population as a sign of national wealth was mainly from the mercantilistic population thought and the British statutes and policies at that time. Mercantilist population thinking is mainly "a large population and people working hard, not only can provide a large number of soldiers and sailors fighting to protect the honor and wealth of the country, but also can ensure an adequate supply of labor to maintain low wage levels. "" Lower wages can also reduce the price of exported products, thereby increasing the inflow of gold; the second can reduce people's laziness and encourage more people to join the labor force. " Mercantilism's demographic view is clearly reflected in British policies and laws at the time. During the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547), a total of 7,200 thieves were hanged in Britain. And in 1536, a decree was proclaimed that sound homeless people would be cut off their ears. A decree was also passed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth in 1572: beggars 14 and older without the permission of the authorities were flogged and branded unless someone wanted to hire them; if they were offended a second time, if no one wanted If they are hired, they will be executed; if they violate the decree for the third time, they will be deemed to be executed immediately.

In "Taxation Theory", Pieddie is also in favor of mercantilism's "full employment" view. His justification for head tax is that "this can motivate all people to send their children to work places suitable for their abilities to earn money, and use this income to pay each child's own head tax." Petty objected The thieves were executed, but they were advocated as slaves. This shows that, like other mercantilists, William Petty agrees that the country should have a large population.

2. The population economy theory of the French heavy agricultural school

François Quenet (1694-1774), the representative of French classical political economy and founder of the heavy agricultural school, further analyzed population and wealth, population and income from the field of production. He put forward the "pure product" theory, and argued that agriculture is the source of all wealth, and only agriculture is the source of wealth that meets people's needs. In the reproduction and circulation of total social capital, Quenet used the method of class analysis for the first time to divide the entire population of society into three major classes, namely the production class, the landowner class, and the non-productive class. In the "Public Economic Table", he proposed that agricultural labor is the only labor that can provide "pure products", so that the class engaged in agricultural production belongs to the productive class, while the class engaged in industrial and commercial activities other than agriculture belongs to the unproductive class, and the Owners are listed separately as a class. So in Quenet's thought, the productive population consisted only of farmers and agricultural workers. But in "Population," Quinais emphasized that population was the first factor that created wealth, stating that "the factors that make a country strong are people: wealth grows because of their needs." The population here refers to the entire population of a country. There is no logical contradiction with the former. The former is the source of the wealth generated by Que Nai's society, while the latter is examined from the internal relationship of population, wealth, consumption, and price.

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