Balkan Economic History, 1550-1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations

Balkan Economic History, 1550-1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations

Balkan Economic History, 1550-1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations

Balkan Economic History, 1550-1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations

Synopsis

Western economic historians have traditionally concentrated on the success stories of major developed economies, while development economists have given most of their attnetion to the problems of the Third World. The authors of this pioneering work study a part of Europe neglected by both approaches. Modernizing patterns in Balkan economic history are traced from the sixteenth century (when the territory was shared by Ottoman and Habsburg empires), through the nineteenth century (when they emerged as independent states), to the end of World War II and its aftermath. Despite present differences in economic systems -- Greece's private market economy, Yugoslavia's planned market economy, and the centrally planned economies of Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania -- the authors find that shared origins and common subsequent experiences are ample justifications for treating the area as an economic unit. Balkan Economic History, 1550-1950 will be a major case study for development economists and will provide historians with the first analytical and statistical study to survey the entire region from the start of the early modern period.

Excerpt

Less than two hundred years ago, the area now covered from east to west by the modern states of Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Albania was populated by about six million people, largely peasants who knew only primitive agricultural techniques. Disorder and disease threatened the future prospects of the few commercial centers. Now the area supports a population of sixty million, primarily engaged in modern manufacture. Technical specialists from these countries now assist less advanced non-European nations in their efforts to industrialize. This remarkable transformation appears at first glance to be the result of progress since the Second World War, at least according to the testimony of the available statistical record. Yet postwar industrial growth and attendant changes in the structure of investment and employment, however striking, have not been sufficient to move any of these countries into the category of the socalled developed economies in northern Europe, North America, and Japan. Per capita production and income plus the extent of manufactured exports remain significantly lower than in the latter group.

This book will examine the curious intermediate position shared by the aggregate achievements of the private market economy of Greece, the planned market economy of Yugoslavia, and the centrally planned economies of the others. It will argue as its principal hypothesis that crucial preconditions to both the extent and the limitations of rapid postwar growth must be traced from the early modern period forward. The first responsibility of the economist is to analyze significant change. That of the modern historian is to identify and explain continuity. Both will be served in this volume.

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