World Economic Performance
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World Economic Performance

Past, Present and Future

Edited by D. S.P. Rao and Bart van Ark

World economic performance over the last 50 years has been spectacular. The postwar period has witnessed impressive growth rates in Western Europe and Japan, and in recent times China and India. This new book discusses these issues and tackles topical questions such as; what are the socio-economic and institutional factors that have contributed to this impressive performance? Will China and India continue to grow at the same rate over the next two decades? What are the prospects for Japan, the US and other advanced economies? The book brings together contributions by eminent scholars including the late Angus Maddison, Professors Justin Lin, Bob Gordon, Ross Garnaut, Bart van Ark and others to provide answers to these fascinating questions. The chapters analyse the economic performance of selected countries including China, India, Japan, Indonesia and the US, as well as Western Europe, Latin America and developing countries as a group. The time period of the study is from 1850 to the present and includes forecasts to 2030.
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Chapter 7: Making the International System Work for the Platinum Age


The most important questions in economics are about why economies grow as fast or slowly as they do, and why some economies grow faster than others. Small differences in economic performance sustained over long periods generate huge differences in the distribution of economic welfare and in economic and, eventually, political power. These overwhelmingly important questions affecting human economic life are neglected by the deductive methods which dominate modern economics. The deduction of logical conclusions from narrowly specified assumptions provides few insights into the ultimate sources – the institutions and values – of differences in economic growth between countries and over time. These insights come especially from the careful study of economic history. The importance of particular institutions comes to be understood through the association of differences in economic performance with changes and differences in institutional structures. These associations are identified from careful numerical study of economic performance. The starting point is the careful marshalling of data. In Maddison’s words: ‘Without measurement, judgements on why some countries got rich, why others are poor, why some catch up and others fall behind, are bound to be fuzzy. Quantification sharpens scholarly discussion and contributes to the dynamics of Quantification sharpens scholarly discussio the research process’ (Maddison, 2002, p.1).

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