Resource Abundance and Economic Development

By R. M. Auty | Go to book overview
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post-apartheid South Africa remains uncertain, with strong pressures for redistribution towards the poor black majority—a redistribution that requires a faster rate of economic growth (Chapter 15).

Despite many disappointments in the performance of resource-abundant countries outside of the 'regions of recent settlement' we believe it is clear that pessimism about resource-led growth is firmly refuted by the historical record that we have outlined. Even if growth is 'dependent', the stable growth of the 'North' has meant that the 'South' has had the opportunity to grow as a consequence. The performance of the laggards is clearly due more to internal problems and policy failures than to lack of opportunities in the world market.

We therefore feel that the mainstream liberal framework, with a dose of interventionism, has on the whole been vindicated. International trade and factor movements were instrumental when it came to raising the rate of growth in resource-abundant economies during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, albeit under circumstances that may have been fairly unique to that period. That some countries performed badly later is a different story. They made the wrong policy choices and either failed to industrialize, or industrialized in an inefficient manner. That is, they failed to make the transition that has been critical for making the best use of trade in the second half of the twentieth century when international exchange of goods and services has indeed been an engine of growth again—perhaps even more than it was during the 'golden age' of 1870-1914. The next chapter further explores the nature of the relationship between natural resources, policy and economic growth with reference to a short-run macroeconomic model.


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Akira, Suehiro (1996), Capital Accumulation in Thailand, 1855-1985, Bangkok: Silkworm Books.

Bruton, Henry J. (1992), in collaboration with Gamini Abeysekera, Nimal Sanderatne and Zainal Aznam Yusof, The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity, and Growth: Sri Lanka and Malaysia, New York: Oxford University Press.

Bulmer-Thomas, Victor (1987), The Political Economy of Central America since 1920, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cardoso, Ciro F. S. (1977), 'The formation of the coffee estate in nineteenth-century Costa Rica', in Kenneth Duncan and Ian Rutledge (eds.) with the collaboration of Colin Hardin, Land and Labour in Latin America. Essays on the Development of Agrarian Capitalism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 165-202.

Cariola, Carmen and Osvaldo Sunkel (1985), 'The growth of the nitrate industry and socioeconomic change in Chile, 1880-1930', in Roberto Cortés Conde and Shane J. Hunt (eds.), The Latin American Economies: Growth and the Export Sector 1880-1930, New York and London: Holmes & Meier, 137-254.

Catão, Luis (1992), 'The failure of export-led growth in Brazil and Mexico, c. 1870-1930', Research Paper 31, London: University of London, Institute of Latin American Studies.


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