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Switzerland.s Rise to a Wealthy Nation: Competition and Contestability as Key Success Factors

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  • Weder, Beatrice
  • Weder, Rolf

Abstract

This paper argues that economic competition and political contestability are two key determinants of the successful development of the Swiss economy in the nineteenth and twentieth century. We describe how Switzerland evolved from a relatively poor country with no natural resources and net emigration in 1800 to one of the richest countries of the world two hundred years later. Based on quantitative and qualitative evidence, we argue that early internationalization, open and flexible markets as well as a high degree of competition were crucial for the development of the Swiss economy. In addition, the Swiss political system with its direct democratic elements and the implemented principle of subsidiarity created political contestability that maintained government efficiency and led to political stability throughout history. The combination of these elements seems to explain the Swiss success, but also to make it difficult for other

Suggested Citation

  • Weder, Beatrice & Weder, Rolf, 2009. "Switzerland.s Rise to a Wealthy Nation: Competition and Contestability as Key Success Factors," WIDER Working Paper Series 025, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:rp2009-25
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    File URL: http://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/RP2009-25.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
    2. Peter Kugler & Beatrice Weder, 2004. "International Portfolio Holdings and Swiss Franc Asset Returns," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 140(III), pages 301-325, September.
    3. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
    4. Merzyn, Wolfram & Ursprung, Heinrich W., 2005. "Voter support for privatizing education: evidence on self-interest and ideology," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 33-58, March.
    5. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    6. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Singh, Nirvikar, 2008. "India’s Development Strategy: Accidents, Design and Replicability," MPRA Paper 12453, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Singh, Nirvikar, 2015. "Breaking the Mold: Thoughts on Punjab’s Future Economic Development," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt14t55658, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.

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    Keywords

    Switzerland; development; growth; competition; contestability;

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