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Iranian Economy in the Twentieth Century: A Global Perspective


  • Esfahani, H.S.
  • Pesaran, M.H.


This paper examines the economic transformation of Iran in a global context through the Twentieth Century. At the start of that century, the Iranian economy had long remained stagnant, poor, and largely agrarian, with a marginal role in the world economy. By the turn of 21st century, Iran had transformed into a complex and relatively large economy with a non-negligible impact on many parts of the world. While the initial conditions and the evolution of domestic institutions and resources played major roles in the pace and nature of that transformation, relations with the rest of the world had crucial influences as well. This paper focuses on the latter forces, while taking account of their interactions with domestic factors in shaping the particular form of economic development in Iran. We study the ways in which the development of the Iranian economy has been affected by international price movements and by the ebbs and flows of trade, investment, and economic growth in the rest of the world. In considering these effects, we also analyze the role of domestic political economy factors and policies in enhancing or hindering the ability of domestic producers to respond to external challenges and opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Esfahani, H.S. & Pesaran, M.H., 2008. "Iranian Economy in the Twentieth Century: A Global Perspective," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0815, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0815

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pamuk, Åževket, 2006. "Estimating Economic Growth in the Middle East since 1820," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 809-828, September.
    2. Akbar E. Torbat, 2005. "Impacts of the US Trade and Financial Sanctions on Iran," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(3), pages 407-434, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Esfahani, Hadi Salehi & Mohaddes, Kamiar & Pesaran, M. Hashem, 2013. "Oil exports and the Iranian economy," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 221-237.
    2. Hadi Salehi Esfahani & Kamiar Mohaddes & M. Hashem Pesaran, 2009. "Oil Exports and the Iranian Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 2843, CESifo.
    3. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2017. "Coercive state, resisting society, political and economic development in Iran," CEPN Working Papers 2017-17, Centre d'Economie de l'Université de Paris Nord.

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    More about this item


    Development and Growth; Political Economy; Oil Prices and the Iranian Economy.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N15 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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