Challenging the Supply-side Vision of the Long Run
Edited by Mark Setterfield
Chapter 12: A Model of Kaldorian Traverse: Cumulative Causation, Structural Change and Evolutionary Hysteresis
12. A model of Kaldorian traverse: cumulative causation, structural change and evolutionary hysteresis Mark Setterfield INTRODUCTION In his celebrated critique of equilibrium economics,1 Nicholas Kaldor argued that history rather than equilibrium should be the central organizing concept on which economic analysis is based. This methodological contribution emerged in the context of KaldorÕs rethinking of the economics of long-run growth. Kaldor favoured the VeblenÐMyrdal notion of cumulative causation as a vehicle for analysing growth, not least because it eschewed the conventional notion of equilibrium as a strong attractor defined and reached independently of the path taken towards it. Instead, models of cumulative causation provide a recursive analysis of growth as a self-reinforcing process, indelibly influenced by its own past history. However, not all commentators have shared KaldorÕs enthusiasm for analysing growth in terms of cumulative causation. If growth is inherently self-reinforcing, then this suggests that once Ôinitial conditionsÕ are specified, and in the absence of unexplained shocks, so is the subsequent growth trajectory of the economy.2 As Hargreaves Heap (1989, p. 142) argues, cumulative causation is, at its core, a model of historical continuity, not one of historical change. On this basis, Gordon (1991) has argued that models of cumulative causation display Ôtoo much cumulationÕ in order for them to successfully explain the comparative historical growth record of capitalist economies Ð despite the conclusion of authors such as Amable (1993) that cumulative and divergent forces are of the greatest general relevance for the description of realized growth outcomes...
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