IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Making Sense of the Competitiveness Debate


  • Krugman, Paul R


The debate over national competitiveness is marked by some basic misperceptions. With few exceptions, those who use the term have a crude, essentially mercantilist view of world trade, in which competition among nations is just like competition between corporations. Not only do the authors and readers of reports on national competitiveness usually not understand comparative advantage, they are unaware of the most basic adding-up constraints. Economists, however, find it hard to believe that seemingly well-informed people can really be this naive, and assume that there must be more sophisticated ideas lying behind what they say. The rationales offered by economists, in turn, offer false comfort to the would-be sophisticates who like the term "competitiveness"; they believe that they have transcended conventional economic theory, when the fact is that they have failed to comprehend it. In short, the actual level of discussion is lower than any of the participants imagines. Copyright 1996 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Krugman, Paul R, 1996. "Making Sense of the Competitiveness Debate," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(3), pages 17-25, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:12:y:1996:i:3:p:17-25

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:12:y:1996:i:3:p:17-25. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.