One Million Miles to Go:
Taking the Axiomatic Road to Defining Exploitation


This paper analyses the Marxian theory of exploitation. The axiomatic approach standard in social choice theory is adopted in order to study the concept of exploitation – what it is and how it should be captured empirically. Two properties are presented that capture some fundamental Marxian insights. It is shown that, contrary to the received view, there exists a nonempty class of definitions of exploitation that preserve the relation between exploitation and profits – called Profit-Exploitation Correspondence Principle – in general economies with heterogeneous agents, complex class structures, and production technologies with heterogeneous labour inputs. However, among the main approaches, only the so-called ‘New Interpreta- tion’ satisfies the Profit-Exploitation Correspondence Principle in general.

Report No.: HIAS-E-50
Author(s): Roberto Veneziani(a)
Naoki Yoshihara(b)
Affiliation: (a) School of Economics and Finance, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK
(b) The Institute of Economics Research, Hitotsubashi University, 2-1, Naka, Kunitachi, Tokyo 186-8601 Japan
Issued Date: October 2015
Keywords: Exploitation, profits, axiomatic analysis
JEL: B51