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Understanding West German Economic Growth in the 1950s

  • Barry Eichengreen
  • Albrecht Ritschl

We evaluate explanations for why Germany grew so quickly in the 1950s. The recent litera- ture has emphasized convergence, structural change and institutional shake-up while minimiz- ing the importance of the postwar shock. We show that this shock and its consequences were more important than neoclassical convergence and structural change in explaining the rapid growth of the West German economy in the 1950s. We find little support for the hypothesis of institutional shakeup. This suggests a different interpretation of post-World War II German economic growth than features in much of the literature.

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Paper provided by Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany in its series SFB 649 Discussion Papers with number SFB649DP2008-068.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hum:wpaper:sfb649dp2008-068
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  1. Booth, Alan & Melling, Joseph & Dartmann, Christoph, 1997. "Institutions and Economic Growth: The Politics of Productivity in West Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, 1945–1955," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 416-444, June.
  2. Buchheim, Christoph & Scherner, Jonas, 2006. "The Role of Private Property in the Nazi Economy: The Case of Industry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(02), pages 390-416, June.
  3. Temin, Peter, 2002. "The Golden Age of European growth reconsidered," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 3-22, April.
  4. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521566087 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Broadberry S. N. & Ritschl A., 1995. "Real Wages, Productivity, and Unemployment in Britain and Germany during the 1920's," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 327-349, July.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521400596 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Ritschl Albrecht & Spoerer Mark, 1997. "Das Bruttosozialprodukt in Deutschland nach den amtlichen Volkseinkommens- und Sozialproduktsstatistiken 1901-1995," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 38(2), pages 27-54, December.
  8. Broadberry, S. N. & Crafts, N. F. R., 1992. "Britain's Productivity Gap in the 1930s: Some Neglected Factors," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(03), pages 531-558, September.
  9. Crafts, Nicholas & Toniolo, Gianni, 1995. "Post-war Growth: An Overview," CEPR Discussion Papers 1095, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Broadberry, Stephen N., 1993. "Manufacturing and the Convergence Hypothesis: What the Long-Run Data Show," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(04), pages 772-795, December.
  11. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
  12. Lindlar, Ludger & Holtfrerich, Carl-Ludwig, 1997. "Geography, exchange rates and trade structures: Germany's export performance since the 1950s," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 217-246, August.
  13. Temple, Jonathan, 2001. "Structural Change and Europe's Golden Age," CEPR Discussion Papers 2861, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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