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Explaining Success and Failure in Development

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  • Szirmai, Adam

    ()
    (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University)

Abstract

Since 1950, there has been considerable diversity in developing country experiences. Some countries and some regions have experienced rapid growth and catch up, others have fallen behind. At a global level there is an increasing inequality of per capita incomes. However, within the framework of increasing inequality, some countries have experienced accelerated catch up. The speed of catch up in the successful countries is more rapid than in previous historical periods. This paper analyses the sources of success and failure in economic development in the post-war period. It applies a framework of proximate, intermediate and ultimate causality. Proximate factors refer to the directly quantifiable economic sources of growth, intermediate factors refer to demand and policies, ultimate sources refer to the deeper historical, cultural, geographic and institutional sources of development. Monocausal explanations of success and failure are rejected. However, amongst the various sources of growth, the paper places special emphasis on developing countries' ability to tap into global knowledge flows. There is not a single example of successful catch up since 1868 which did not involve tapping into international technology. The extent to which countries can profit from international technology flows depends on their absorptive capacities, technological capabilities and systems of innovation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in its series MERIT Working Papers with number 013.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2008013

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Keywords: Catch Up; Economic Development; Economic Growth; Advantages of Backwardness; Absorptive Capacity;

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References

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  1. Michael Faye & John McArthur & Jeffrey Sachs & Thomas Snow, 2004. "The Challenges Facing Landlocked Developing Countries," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 31-68.
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  3. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Lall, Sanjaya, 1992. "Technological capabilities and industrialization," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 165-186, February.
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  6. Quah, Danny, 1997. "Empirics for Growth and Distribution: Stratification, Polarization, and Convergence Clubs," CEPR Discussion Papers 1586, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Quah, Danny T, 1997. " Empirics for Growth and Distribution: Stratification, Polarization, and Convergence Clubs," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 27-59, March.
  8. Szirmai,Adam, 2005. "The Dynamics of Socio-Economic Development," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521520843, April.
  9. Vernon W. Ruttan, 2002. "Productivity Growth in World Agriculture: Sources and Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 161-184, Fall.
  10. Eichengreen, Barry, 2000. "Taming Capital Flows," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1105-1116, June.
  11. John F. Helliwell, 1992. "Empirical Linkages Between Democracy and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Dani Rodrik, 2006. "Goodbye Washington Consensus, Hello Washington Confusion? A Review of the World Bank's Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 973-987, December.
  13. Maddison, Angus, 1987. "Growth and Slowdown in Advanced Capitalist Economies: Techniques of Quantitative Assessment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 649-98, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Szirmai, Adam, 2011. "Angus Maddison and Development Economics," MERIT Working Papers 035, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  2. Rooks, Gerrit & Szirmai, Adam & Sserwanga, Arthur, 2009. "The Interplay of Human and Social Capital in Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries: The Case of Keywords: social capital, human capital, entrepreneurship, developing countries," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  3. Richard Bluhm & Adam Szirmai & UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2011. "Institutions, Inequality and Growth: A review of theory and evidence on the institutional determinants of growth and inequality," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa634, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
  4. Kesidou, Effie & Szirmai, Adam, 2008. "Local Knowledge Spillovers, Innovation and Economic Performance in Developing Countries: A discussion of alternative specifications," MERIT Working Papers 033, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  5. Enrico Santarelli & Hien Tran, 2013. "The interplay of human and social capital in shaping entrepreneurial performance: the case of Vietnam," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 435-458, February.
  6. Kumral, Neşe & Değer, Çağaçan & Türkcan, Burcu, 2008. "Competitive Industrial Performance Index and It’s Drivers: Case of Turkey and Selected Countries," MPRA Paper 23097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Szirmai, Adam, 2009. "Industrialisation as an engine of growth in developing countries," MERIT Working Papers 010, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  8. Szirmai, Adam & Verspagen, Bart, 2011. "Manufacturing and Economic Growth in Developing Countries, 1950-2005," MERIT Working Papers 069, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  9. Szirmai, Adam, 2012. "Industrialisation as an engine of growth in developing countries, 1950–2005," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 406-420.
  10. Bluhm, Richard & Szirmai, Adam, 2012. "Institutions and long-run growth performance: An analytic literature review of the institutional determinants of economic growth," MERIT Working Papers 033, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

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