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Globalization, Convergence and History


  • Jeffrey G. Williamson


There were three epochs of growth experience after the mid 19th century for what is now called the OECD 'club'; the late 19th century, the middle years between 1914 and 1950, and the late 20th century. The late 19th and the late 20th century epochs were ones of overall fast growth and convergence: poor countries tended to grow even faster than rich and the economic gap between rich and poor countries diminished. The middle years were ones of overall slow growth and divergence: poor countries tended to grow even slower than rich and the economic gap between rich and poor countries widened. Since the middle years were also ones of economic autarky and 'de-globalization', while the rest were ones of increasing globalization in world commodity and factor markets, history offers an unambiguous positive correlation between globalization and convergence. But is the correlation spurious? When the pre-World War I years are examined in detail, the correlation turns out to be causal: the globalization of commodity and factor markets served to play a critical, perhaps the critical, role in contributing to convergence. A century and a half of OECD club history also suggests that economists should pay more attention to who gains and who loses from convergence since the answers may help determine whether pro-globalization or anti- globalization policies will persist.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1995. "Globalization, Convergence and History," NBER Working Papers 5259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5259
    Note: DAE

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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1998. "Globalization, Labor Markets and Policy Backlash in the Past," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 51-72, Fall.
    2. Vadym Volosovych, 2005. "Financial Market Integration Over the Long Run: Is there a U-shape?," Working Papers 05001, Department of Economics, College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, revised Feb 2007.
    3. Runge, C. Ford, 1997. "Globalization And Sustainability: The Machine In The Global Garden," Working Papers 14373, University of Minnesota, Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy.
    4. Alan M. Taylor, 1996. "International Capital Mobility in History: The Saving-Investment Relationship," NBER Working Papers 5743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Taylor, Alan M., 1998. "Argentina and the world capital market: saving, investment, and international capital mobility in the twentieth century," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 147-184, October.
    6. Brady, David & Beckfield, Jason & Seeleib-Kaiser, Martin, 2004. "Economic Globalization and the Welfare State in Affluent Democracies, 1975-1998," Working papers of the ZeS 12/2004, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).
    7. Alan M. Taylor, 1996. "International Capital Mobility in History: Purchasing-Power Parity in the Long Run," NBER Working Papers 5742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Matthew Higgins & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1996. "Asian Demography and Foreign Capital Dependence," NBER Working Papers 5560, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Istvan Konya & Hiroshi Ohashi, 2004. "Globalization and Consumption Patterns among the OECD Countries," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 596, Boston College Department of Economics.
    10. Huberman, Michael & Lewchuk, Wayne, 2003. "European economic integration and the labour compact, 1850 1913," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(01), pages 3-41, April.
    11. Arribas, Iván & Pérez, Francisco & Tortosa-Ausina, Emili, 2008. "On the Dynamics of Globalization," MPRA Paper 16007, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2008.
    12. Anderson, Kym, 1998. "Are resource-abundant economies disadvantaged?," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 42(1), March.
    13. Khanna, Tarun & Kogan, Joe & Palepu, Krishna, 2002. "Globalization and Similarities in Corporate Governance: A Cross-Country Analysis," CEI Working Paper Series 2002-6, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    14. Graziella Bertocchi, 2003. "Labor Market Institutions, International Capital Mobility, and the Persistence of Underdevelopment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(3), pages 637-650, July.
    15. Alan M. Taylor, 1999. "Latin America and Foreign Capital in the Twentieth Century: Economics, Politics, and Institutional Change," NBER Working Papers 7394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Marcela Anzola, 2006. "Países en desarrollo y globalización: ¿Gandores o Perdedores?," BORRADORES DE INVESTIGACIÓN 003974, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
    17. Joshua L. Rosenbloom, 1996. "The Extent of the Labor Market in the United States, 1850-1914," NBER Historical Working Papers 0078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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