Theories that predict or explain deindustrialisation have a long intellectual lineage. Karl Marx's theory of declining (industrial) profit argues that technological innovation enables more efficient means of production, resulting in increased physical productivity, i.e., a greater output of use value per unit of capital invested. In parallel, however, technological innovations replace people with machinery, and the organic composition of capital increases. Assuming only labour can produce new additional value, this greater physical output embodies a smaller value and surplus value. The average rate of industrial profit therefore declines in the longer term.
George Reisman (2002) identified inflation as a contributor to deindustrialisation. In his analysis, the process of fiat money inflation distorts the economic calculations necessary to operate capital-intensive manufacturing enterprises, and makes the investments necessary for sustaining the operations of such enterprises unprofitable.
The term de-industrialisation crisis has been used to describe the decline of labour-intensive industry in a number of countries and the flight of jobs away from cities. One example is labour-intensive manufacturing. After free-trade agreements were instituted with less developed nations in the 1980s and 1990s, labour-intensive manufacturers relocated production facilities to Third World countries with much lower wages and lower standards. In addition, technological inventions that required less manual labour, such as industrial robots, eliminated many manufacturing jobs.