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The Elusive Rentier Rich: Piketty's Data Battles and the Power of Absent Evidence

McGoey, L (2017) 'The Elusive Rentier Rich: Piketty's Data Battles and the Power of Absent Evidence.' Science, Technology, & Human Values, 42 (2). 257 - 279. ISSN 0162-2439

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Abstract

The popularity of Thomas Piketty?s research on wealth inequality has drawn attention to a curious question: why was widening wealth inequality largely neglected by mainstream economists in recent decades? To explore and explain that neglect, I draw on the writing of the early neoclassical economist John Bates Clark, who introduced the notion of the marginal productivity of income distribution at the end of the nineteenth century. I then turn to Piketty?s Capital in order to analyze the salience of marginal productivity theories of income today. I suggest that most of the criticism and praise for Piketty?s research is focused on data that are accessible and measurable, obscuring attention to questions over whether current methods for measuring economic capital are defensible or not. My overarching aim is to explore how ?absent? data in economics as a whole help to reinforce blind spots within mainstream economic theory.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: inequality, rent extraction, neoclassical economics, marginal productivity theories
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2017 10:51
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2018 17:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/19174

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