The Latin American Experience
Edited by Gabriela Dutrénit and Judith Sutz
Chapter 10: Macro-to-micro interactions and economic development: a cross-country comparative study
In spite of its formal elegance and widespread acceptance by mainstream economics, neoclassical growth theory is only partially helpful when we come to examine why countries perform differently over time. Although it provides us with a stylised equilibrium algorithm describing the role that the accumulation of capital and labour and technical progress have as sources of economic growth, it is nonetheless a far cry from what is needed – both analytically and for policy purposes – if we are to adequately understand why some countries are richer than others and attain better or worse performance over time. Besides the accumulation of capital, labour and technical progress, in a very fundamental sense, economic development means changes in the structure of the economy, the building up of institutions, markets and technological capabilities, and the gradual construction of new forms of interaction between economic agents, government authorities and a large list of social organisations – universities, trade unions, political parties and others – some of which do not necessarily respond to conventional market signals and incentives. Countries differ enormously in the way in which market and non-market processes and institutions operate, affecting the long-term functioning of the economy. There are many different styles of capitalism in the world; the US embodies one of them, but Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Israel and Brazil, to name just a few, are also scenarios of capitalism with their own country-specific institutions and forms of social and economic organisation.
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