The Astonishing Conclusion of the Attribution Debate on the Law of Comparative Advantage

18 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2021

Date Written: January 1, 2021

Abstract

The recent demystification of David Ricardo’s famous numerical example in chapter 7 of the Principles bears important implications for the longstanding attribution debate on the law of comparative advantage. It has now become apparent that neither Ricardo nor Smith had anything to do with it. In reality, they both adhered to the classical rule for specialization, allegedly refuted by the law of comparative advantage. The unfounded belief in the existence of this so-called law gradually grew out of the confusion created by John Stuart Mill’s misreading of the purpose, content and implications of Ricardo’s four numbers. As shown in the paper, J. S. Mill, James Mill and Robert Torrens also always adhered to the classical rule for specialization. Thus, the law of comparative advantage is nothing more than an illusion, so no one should be credited for it.

Keywords: comparative advantage, David Ricardo, Robert Torrens, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, classical rule for specialization

JEL Classification: B12, B17, F10

Suggested Citation

Morales Meoqui, Jorge, The Astonishing Conclusion of the Attribution Debate on the Law of Comparative Advantage (January 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3758474 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3758474

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