Re: Understanding Economic Growth

Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin (
Tue, 2 Dec 1997 01:25:29 -0800

hanson@econ.Berkeley.EDU (Robin Hanson) writes:
>-- Per capita growth rates between nations have been highly
>divergent; The lower nation that catches up to the higher nation is
>the exception; typically the higher pulls away. The lowest nations
>now are about as low (in per capital income) as all nations were

Hm... This means that India and China have higher per capita incomes
than most European nations, since that was true in the year 800 AD.

Try again.

There are certain SOCIAL and POLITICAL factors that dramatically
affect growth rates. These factors changed over a
relatively short period in western Europe; and in the course of a
couple hundred years western Europe went from the verge of extinction
(pushed from the east by the Mongols, from the south by the Moslems,
and bound on the north and west by cold salt water, and seriously
ignorant of science and technology as compared to those foes), to
being the definers of world power.

In the process, the LEADERSHIP of western Europe LOST most of their
power over western Europe.

Other parts of the world did not make that change. Some
leaders actively resisted for fear of losing their power. Others
tried to achieve some interesting
compromises (that in the case of China amount to
"Behave like them, be imaginative, independent, and individualistic,
and above all, do what you're told") that didn't work.

But a newly industrializing nation grows faster than an
already-industrialized nation. If the newly industrializing nation
is not DEVELOPING new technology, but merely COPYING it, as is now
the case for most industrializing nations, the growth rate can be
quite incredible.

All that is necessary is to start copying those social and political
factors. Maybe not all of them are necessary. Maybe they are.
Maybe they work better copied in one order than in another.

Korea apparently has copied enough to handle the process of
*becoming* an industrialized country, but not the state of *being*
one, so they are a bit of a mess right now, but the people will work
it out -- if they are permitted to try lots of different ways to do
so, most of which won't do very well. (Same way Edison invented the
light bulb.)

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