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

  • Weder, Beatrice
  • Weder, Rolf

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

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File URL: http://www.wider.unu.edu/stc/repec/pdfs/rp2009/RP2009-25.pdf
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Paper provided by World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) in its series Working Paper Series with number UNU-WIDER Research Paper RP2009/25.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:rp2009-25
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  1. Peter Kugler & Beatrice Weder, 2004. "International Portfolio Holdings and Swiss Franc Asset Returns," Working papers 2004/08, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  2. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
  3. Wolfram Merzyn & Heinrich Ursprung, 2003. "Voter Support for Privatizing Education: Evidence on Self-Interest and Ideology," CESifo Working Paper Series 999, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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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