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Globalization, Convergence and History

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  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

Abstract

There were three epochs of growth experience after the mid 19th century for what is now called the OECD 'club'; the late 19th century, the middle years between 1914 and 1950, and the late 20th century. The late 19th and the late 20th century epochs were ones of overall fast growth and convergence: poor countries tended to grow even faster than rich and the economic gap between rich and poor countries diminished. The middle years were ones of overall slow growth and divergence: poor countries tended to grow even slower than rich and the economic gap between rich and poor countries widened. Since the middle years were also ones of economic autarky and 'de-globalization', while the rest were ones of increasing globalization in world commodity and factor markets, history offers an unambiguous positive correlation between globalization and convergence. But is the correlation spurious? When the pre-World War I years are examined in detail, the correlation turns out to be causal: the globalization of commodity and factor markets served to play a critical, perhaps the critical, role in contributing to convergence. A century and a half of OECD club history also suggests that economists should pay more attention to who gains and who loses from convergence since the answers may help determine whether pro-globalization or anti- globalization policies will persist.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5259.

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Date of creation: Sep 1995
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Publication status: published as Journal of Economic History, vol. 56, no. 2 (June 1996): pp. 1-30
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5259

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Cited by:
  1. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1998. "Globalization, Labor Markets and Policy Backlash in the Past," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 51-72, Fall.
  2. Alan M. Taylor, 1999. "Latin America and Foreign Capital in the Twentieth Century: Economics, Politics, and Institutional Change," NBER Working Papers 7394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Anderson, Kym, 1998. "Are resource-abundant economies disadvantaged?," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 42(1), March.
  4. Alan M. Taylor, 1996. "International Capital Mobility in History: Purchasing-Power Parity in the Long Run," NBER Working Papers 5742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Michael Huberman & Wayne Lewchuk, 2002. "European Economic Integration and the Labour Compact, 1850-1913," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-34, CIRANO.
  6. Matthew Higgins & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1996. "Asian Demography and Foreign Capital Dependence," NBER Working Papers 5560, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Joshua L. Rosenbloom, 1996. "The Extent of the Labor Market in the United States, 1850-1914," NBER Historical Working Papers 0078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Istvan Konya & Hiroshi Ohashi, 2004. "Globalization and Consumption Patterns among the OECD Countries," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 596, Boston College Department of Economics.
  9. Alan M. Taylor, 1996. "International Capital Mobility in History: The Saving-Investment Relationship," NBER Working Papers 5743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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