Luigi Pasinetti and the Political Economy of Growth and Distribution

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This paper provides a careful and synthetic overview of his contributions as well as a reconstruction of Pasinetti’s philosophical approach to economics as a science meant to serve humanity.

Luigi Pasinetti’s work has deeply affected modern economic theory. His papers on the Cambridge Capital Controversy are world renowned. But he has made many other contributions to the economic debates of the last half century, offering not only detailed criticisms of mainstream economic theory, but also the elaboration of an alternative, more complete, and coherent framework for understanding growth and income distribution, structural change, and trade relations. He has also made notable contributions to discussions of economic policy. Pasinetti’s papers are very clearly written, but many are formidably technical and often build cumulatively on his previous work.

This paper arises from a set of notes I wrote in July 2014 for Thomas Ferguson, the Research Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking in New York, as he prepared for a series of meetings with Professor Luigi Pasinetti in Milan. Both he and Professor Geoffrey Harcourt strongly encouraged me to expand these. In the present paper the sequence is kept as in the original notes with some important additions while the text has been changed into a more discursive style.