Long-run Growth, Social Institutions and Living Standards

Long-run Growth, Social Institutions and Living Standards

Edited by Neri Salvadori and Arrigo Opocher

This engaging book contains a set of original contributions to the much-debated issues of long-run economic growth in relation to institutional and social progress.


Arrigo Opocher and Neri Salvadori

Subjects: economics and finance, radical and feminist economics, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


Arrigo Opocher and Neri Salvadori A common feature of the recent theories of economic growth is that they tend to be increasingly inclusive. Many factors which were previously considered as fixed in the background are now recognized as changing and varying across countries, requiring an explanation within the theory. Institutions, in particular, are widely studied in relation to potential growth. The quality of formal, legal institutions which, in a broad sense, define the rules of the game and the structure of economic incentives, is placed quite naturally among the fundamental factors affecting potential growth and, most importantly, among the effects of it. The many informal institutions embedded in habits and social norms, such as fertility choices, attitudes towards education and health care, and the use of leisure, are clearly recognized to interact with economic growth. Institutions and social norms are explained by means of economic categories and related mutually to growth, giving rise to a variety of self-reinforcing mechanisms. Poverty traps, increasing returns and the accumulation of human capital are among the paramount features of the modern theories of long-run growth. At the same time, and partially resulting from this growing awareness of the role of institutions, increasing stress is laid on economic growth in relation to living standards. The rate of potential growth and per capita real income are, in fact, poor indicators of the overall performance of the economic system. Broader indicators of progress in well-being, such as the quality of social relations, safety, environmental protection, life expectancy...