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Growth, Distribution and Demography: Some Lessons from History

  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

If we have learned anything from the recent outpouring of empirical growth equations is that life is far too complex to expect unconditional' convergence among all countries and at" all times. This fact motivates two questions. First, why has it taken economists so long to learn" the same lesson from the Kuznets Curve debate? No economist should expect an unconditional'" Kuznets Curve to emerge from the growth experience of all countries and at all times. The" industrial revolutionary forces thought to have an impact on inequality can be offset or reinforced" by demography, skill supply and globalization. This paper assesses the role of globalization and" demography via mass migrations. Second, why has it taken economists so long to learn that" demography influences growth? When treated properly, demography can be shown to have a" significant impact on GDP per capita growth. The answers to these two questions are sought by" looking at inequality and growth experience in the Old World, the New World last century and a half.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6244.

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Date of creation: Oct 1997
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 35, no. 3 (July 1998): 241-271.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6244
Note: DAE
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  1. O'Rourke, K, 1997. "Tariffs and Growth in the Late 19th Century," Papers 97/18, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  2. Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1997. "Globalization and Inequality, Past and Present," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 12(2), pages 117-35, August.
  3. Hatton, T.J. & Williamson, J.G., 1992. "What Drove the Mass Migrations from Europe in the Late Ninteenth Century," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1614, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1996. "Globalization, Convergence, and History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 277-306, June.
  5. Taylor, Alan M., 1999. "Sources of convergence in the late nineteenth century," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(9), pages 1621-1645, October.
  6. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1992. "The Evolution of Global Labor Markets Since 1830 Background Evidence and Hypotheses," NBER Historical Working Papers 0036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ahluwalia, Montek S., 1976. "Inequality, poverty and development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 307-342, December.
  8. David E. Bloom & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1997. "Demographic Transitions and Economic Miracles in Emerging Asia," NBER Working Papers 6268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Robinson, Sherman, 1976. "A Note on the U Hypothesis Relating Income Inequality and Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(3), pages 437-40, June.
  10. O'Rourke, Kevin H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1997. "Around the European periphery 1870 1913: Globalization, schooling and growth," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 153-190, August.
  11. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  12. Peter Lindert & Wen Hai & Shunli Yao, 2003. "Three Centuries Of Inequality In Britain And America," Working Papers 979, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  13. Peter H. Lindert, . "Three Centuries Of Inequality In Britain And America," Department of Economics 97-09, California Davis - Department of Economics.
  14. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  15. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1994. "The Political Economy of Growth: A Critical Survey of the Recent Literature," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(3), pages 351-71, September.
  16. Alan M. Taylor & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1994. "Convergence in the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 4711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. O'Rourke, Kevin H & Taylor, Alan M & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1996. "Factor Price Convergence in the Late Nineteenth Century," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(3), pages 499-530, August.
  18. Fogel, Robert W., 1993. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1993-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  19. Taylor, Alan M & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1994. "Capital Flows to the New World as an Intergenerational Transfer," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 348-71, April.
  20. Kelley, Allen C. & Schmidt, Robert M., 1995. "Aggregate Population and Economic Growth Correlations: The Role of the Components of Demographic Change," Working Papers 95-37, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  21. Wood, Adrian, 1995. "North-South Trade, Employment and Inequality: Changing Fortunes in a Skill-Driven World," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290155.
  22. Kelley, Allen C, 1988. "Economic Consequences of Population Change in the Third World," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 1685-1728, December.
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