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David Ricardo


David Ricardo is not a financial term, but rather an influential British economist born in 1772, who contributed significantly to the field of economics. He is best known for his theories on comparative advantage and the law of diminishing returns. Ricardo’s work has become foundational in international trade theory and modern economic thought.


The phonetic pronunciation of “David Ricardo” is:/ˈdeɪvɪd rɪˈkɑrdoʊ/DAE-vid ri-KAHR-doh

Key Takeaways

  1. David Ricardo was a British political economist and a prominent figure during the classical period of economic thought. He is best known for his theories on international trade, comparative advantage, and the law of diminishing returns.
  2. Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage aimed to explain why nations should engage in international trade, even if one of them has an absolute advantage in the production of all goods. This principle has become a fundamental concept in international economics and continues to shape global trade policies today.
  3. The law of diminishing returns, another key contribution by Ricardo, states that as more factors of production (such as labor and capital) are added to a fixed resource (such as land), the incremental output generated eventually decreases. This concept helps in understanding the optimal allocation of resources and the efficient management of production processes in the economy.


David Ricardo is an important figure in business and finance due to his immense contribution to the field of economics during the early 19th century. A British political economist, Ricardo is best known for his theories about international trade, comparative advantage, and the distribution of income. His principle of comparative advantage, in particular, has served as a guiding force for global trade policies and remains relevant today. It argues that countries should specialize in producing the goods they can create most efficiently and trade for others, unlocking greater wealth for both parties. In summary, David Ricardo’s ideas and theories have had a lasting impact on economic thought, shaping modern international trade practices and providing the basis for numerous economic policies.


David Ricardo, an influential British economist of the 19th century, made substantial contributions to various aspects of the finance and business world, particularly in the realm of international trade. Among his key theories was the “law of comparative advantage,” which has become a cornerstone in understanding the purpose and benefits of global market dynamics. This economic model demonstrates how countries can actually gain from trade, even if one country is less efficient at producing each good than its trading counterpart. By determining the ratio from which a nation can produce a product relative to others, the comparative advantage approach promotes specialization in goods and services, allowing for more efficient allocation of resources within each country and an overall expansion in global trade. In addition to his role in trade, Ricardo’s ideas have played a role in theories of taxation, profits, and income distribution, striving to help businesses achieve steady economic growth and ensure societal welfare. His “law of diminishing returns” studied the correlation between input and output within a business, concluding that consistent application of additional resources to one production sector would result in a progressively smaller increase in output over time. In doing so, Ricardo urged businesses to distribute and invest their resources wisely in order to maximize productivity. His theories have significantly informed modern economic and financial policies, providing valuable guidance on how to optimize production, investment, and trade decision-making, ultimately serving to enhance the business landscape and promote financial stability.


David Ricardo was a British political economist and a key figure in the development of modern economic theory, particularly in the areas of international trade and comparative advantage. Here are three real world examples related to his theories. 1. Comparative Advantage in International Trade: Ricardo’s concept of comparative advantage states that a country should specialize in the production of goods that it can produce most efficiently, and import other goods that it cannot produce as efficiently. A classic example of this is the trade between the United States and Canada. The United States specializes in producing and exporting items like airplanes, while Canada excels at producing and exporting timber. Both countries benefit from this trade arrangement since each is focusing on their area of expertise. 2. The Theory of Rent: Ricardo’s theory of rent states that the price of land and its associated resources is determined by the value of the commodities they produce. For example, fertile farmland that can produce high-quality crops at a lower cost will be priced higher than less fertile land that requires more expensive inputs to produce similar yields. Real estate market prices often reflect the potential productivity of a particular location, with prime real estate commanding higher prices due to its potential income generation capacity. 3. The Law of Diminishing Returns: According to Ricardo’s law of diminishing returns, as more labor and resources are utilized to produce a good, the increase in output per additional unit of resources employed will eventually decline. For example, consider a factory producing cars. When the factory starts operating, adding more labor can lead to higher production rates. However, as the number of workers increases, the additional output per worker may decline as the factory becomes overcrowded, machinery usage becomes less efficient, or communication barriers arise. Such a scenario highlights the importance of optimizing resource allocation to maximize productivity and economic growth.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Who is David Ricardo?
David Ricardo (1772-1823) was a British political economist, who made significant contributions to classical economics, particularly in the areas of comparative advantage, the labor theory of value, and the law of diminishing marginal returns. He is considered one of the most influential economists of the early 19th century.
What is Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage?
The theory of comparative advantage is one of Ricardo’s most celebrated contributions to economics. It suggests that countries should specialize in producing goods for which they have a relative lower opportunity cost compared to other countries, and trade with those countries that have a comparative advantage in producing other goods. This specialization and trade will lead to an increase in overall efficiency and wealth for all countries involved.
What is Ricardo’s labor theory of value?
Ricardo’s labor theory of value posits that the value of a good or service is determined by the amount of labor required to produce it. The theory argues that the relative prices of different goods would tend towards the ratios of the amount of labor necessary to produce them. However, it’s important to note that this theory has been largely supplanted in modern economic thought by more comprehensive theories, such as the marginal utility theory of value.
How did David Ricardo influence other economists?
David Ricardo’s ideas and theories have had a significant impact on the field of economics, particularly in the development of classical economics. His work has influenced many later economists, including John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and Alfred Marshall. His concepts, such as comparative advantage and the law of diminishing marginal returns, remain foundational ideas in modern economics.
What is Ricardo’s law of diminishing marginal returns?
The law of diminishing marginal returns, also known as diminishing returns, states that as more and more units of a variable input (such as labor or capital) are applied to a fixed amount of another input (such as land), the additional output produced by each additional unit of the variable input will eventually decrease. This concept is crucial in understanding concepts such as diminishing returns to scale and the optimal allocation of resources in production.
What are some major works by David Ricardo?
David Ricardo’s most famous work is his 1817 book, “Principles of Political Economy and Taxation.” This book contains many of Ricardo’s groundbreaking theories and ideas and is considered a seminal work in classical economics. Additionally, Ricardo wrote numerous other papers and articles addressing various economic issues throughout his career.

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