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Where did British Foreign Capital Go? Fundamentals, Failures and the Lucas Paradox: 1870-1913

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  • Michael A. Clemens
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

Abstract

A decade has passed since Robert Lucas asked why capital does not flow from rich to poor countries. Lucas used a contemporary example to illustrate his Paradox, the very modest flow of capital from the United States to India during the second great global capital market boom, after 1970. Had he paid more attention to the first great global capital market boom, after 1870, he might have been less surprised. Very little of British capital exports went to poor, labor-abundant countries. Indeed, about two-thirds of it went to the labor-scarce New World where only a tenth of the world's population lived, and only about a quarter of it went to labor-abundant Asia and Africa where almost two-thirds of the world's population lived. Why? Was it caused by some international market failure, or was it due to some shortfall in underlying economic, demographic or geographic fundamentals that made capital's productivity low in poor countries? This paper constructs a panel data set for 34 countries who as a group got 92 percent of British capital, and uses it to conclude that international capital market failure (including whether the country was on or off the Gold Standard) was not involved. It then ranks the three big fundamentals that mattered schooling, natural resources and demography.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael A. Clemens & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2000. "Where did British Foreign Capital Go? Fundamentals, Failures and the Lucas Paradox: 1870-1913," NBER Working Papers 8028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8028
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    Cited by:

    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 1065-1188, November.
    2. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "Mondialisation et inégalité : une longue histoire," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 10(1), pages 7-41.
    3. Andrés Solimano & Mario Gutierrez, 2008. "Savings, Investment and Capital Accumulation," Chapters,in: International Handbook of Development Economics, Volumes 1 & 2, chapter 19 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Aleksandar Zaklan & Paolo Mauro & Martín Minnoni & Andre Faria, 2006. "The External Financing of Emerging Market Countries; Evidence from Two Waves of Financial Globalization," IMF Working Papers 06/205, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2003. "Does Globalization Make the World More Unequal?," NBER Chapters,in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 227-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Volosovych, Vadym, 2011. "Measuring financial market integration over the long run: Is there a U-shape?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1535-1561.
    7. Michael Bordo & Harold James, 2006. "One world money, then and now," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 395-407, December.
    8. Rahman, Ahmed S., 2010. "Fighting the forces of gravity - Seapower and maritime trade between the 18th and 20th centuries," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 28-48, January.
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    10. Francisco A. Gallego, 2010. "Historical Origins of Schooling: The Role of Democracy and Political Decentralization," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 228-243, May.
    11. Hisham Foad, 2012. "FDI and immigration: a regional analysis," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 49(1), pages 237-259, August.
    12. Antoine Parent & Christophe Rault, 2005. "The Influences Affecting French Assets Abroad Prior 1914," Documents de recherche 05-14, Centre d'Études des Politiques Économiques (EPEE), Université d'Evry Val d'Essonne.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative

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