Theory and Empirics
Edited by Neri Salvadori, Pasquale Commendatore and Massimo Tamberi
Pasquale Commendatore, Neri Salvadori and Massimo Tamberi It is widely recognized that the process of economic expansion, which has taken off exponentially since the industrial revolution, is a non-homogeneous and multifaceted phenomenon which has deeply affected human welfare and cultural, social and political change. Nevertheless, many contributions to the study of economic growth, focusing on some basic features of growth and development, underplay this complexity. The tendency to oversimplification in the economic literature carries with it the risk of overlooking aspects required for a full understanding of why some countries flourish while others lag behind. In the post-war period (during the years of the ‘high development theory’), a group of theorists (including Rosenstein-Rodan, 1943; Lewis, 1954; Myrdal, 1957; and Hirschman, 1958) put forward several analyses which had regional inequalities, structural change and dualism at the core of their inquiry. These authors stressed the existence of endogenously produced imbalances and were well aware that crucial factors that could favour or hinder economic take-off are aspects related to geographical features (these can be grouped into first nature or non-human-determined geographical features which may have an impact on the economic performance of a region, for example rivers, lakes, natural harbours, mineral deposits and, on the other hand, second nature or human-determined geographical features, for example those features that are dependent on the spatial interaction among economic agents); to the quality of institutions; to market imperfections due, for example, to the existence of externalities, scale economies, and so on; to excess labour supply; and,...