Working Paper, University of Massachusetts, Department of Economics 2014-10
This paper analyses the Marxian theory of exploitation. A general axiomatic approach is developed which is appropriate 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 Interpretation satisfies the Profit-Exploitation Correspondence Principle in general.