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Early development

  • Marvin Goodfriend
  • John McDermott

Long-term economic development involves four fundamental processes: the exploitation of increasing returns to specialization, the transition from household to market production, knowledge and human capital accumulation, and industrialization. In this paper, we integrate these processes into a coherent framework for thinking about economic history. Pre-industrial development is driven by increasing returns to specialization made possible by a growing population. Increasing specialization eventually activates a learning technology and initiates industrial growth, which carries the economy to a fully market-based balanced growth path. Among other things, we attribute a role to population and market size that is consistent with the evidence.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 94-02.

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Date of creation: 1994
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:94-02
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  1. Becker, Gary S & Barro, Robert J, 1988. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 1-25, February.
  2. Sergio T. Rebelo, 1990. "Long Run Policy Analysis and Long Run Growth," NBER Working Papers 3325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert Tamura, . "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 90-5a, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. Locay, Luis, 1990. "Economic Development and the Division of Production between Households and Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 965-82, October.
  5. Murphy, Kevin M. & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1989. "Industrialization and the Big Push," Scholarly Articles 3606235, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Romer, Paul M, 1987. "Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 56-62, May.
  7. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
  8. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  9. Marvin Goodfriend & John McDermott, 1994. "Early development," Working Paper 94-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  10. Azariadis, Costas & Drazen, Allan, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-26, May.
  11. George J. Stigler, 1951. "The Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 185.
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