Academic journal article Atlantic Economic Journal

Individualism and Economic Growth

Academic journal article Atlantic Economic Journal

Individualism and Economic Growth

Article excerpt

Writing in the British Sunday Times [February 20, 1994, Section 4, p. 4], Peter Kellner suggested that the slow rate of growth of the British economy in recent years was a result of a preference for individualism over teamwork in the British. The notion that the economic performance of a nation is associated with the psychological traits of the citizens has received support from a study by R. Lynn [The Secret of the Miracle Economy, Social Affairs Unit, 1991] in which competitiveness (as measured in samples of college students in 42 nations) predicted economic growth rates, while achievement motivation and work ethic did not.

Data to test Kellner's particular hypothesis come from a study by G. Hofstede [Culture Consequences, Sage, 1980] in which a psychological questionnaire was administered in the period 1967-73 to workers for a multinational company with offices in 39 nations. One of the psychological dimensions measured was labeled individualism and was characterized by the workers emphasizing personal time, freedom, and challenge.

For 18 industrialized nations (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.S., and West Germany), individualism scores were positively associated with GNP per capita in 1970 (r = 0.41, two-tailed p [less than] . …

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