Analyzing and Arresting Uneven Development: Friedrich List and Gunnar Myrdal Compared

By Ho, P. Sai-wing | Journal of Economic Issues, June 2006 | Go to article overview

Analyzing and Arresting Uneven Development: Friedrich List and Gunnar Myrdal Compared


Ho, P. Sai-wing, Journal of Economic Issues


Among other contributions, Gunnar Myrdal is known for his investigations into the uneven development between developed and underdeveloped countries. His analysis is extremely rich, embodying as it does both "economic" and "noneconomic" factors. One of the forces engendering such development that he paid quite a bit of attention to was that played by international trade between the two groups of countries. In pursuing his investigation with that as one of the chief focuses, his analysis can be regarded as resembling that of a "development economist" who wrote in the first half of the nineteenth century, Friedrich List.

Other researchers have mentioned that there are similarities between the two (Gottfried Haberler [1959] 1988, 25, n. 10; Frederick Clairmonte 1959, 41; Leonard Gomes 1987, 272). However, they do so in passing and say little or nothing about where the similarities are. By far the most comprehensive comparison is the one made by James Belshaw (1959), who claimed that "despite differences in sophistication of economic knowledge, logical arrangement of ideas, and clarity of argument, there are ... some striking similarities" between the two (415).

He divided his discussion into six headings: "Value Premises and Objects of Study," "Attitude towards Orthodox Economics," "Agriculture versus Manufacturing," "Theory of International Trade," "Need for a New Approach in Economics," and "Policy" (415). Under headings so general, it would appear that nothing is left for further comparison and contrast. This paper contends, however, that central focus should be placed on Myrdal's concept of circular and cumulative causation, which in List's works is expressed as various kinds of "reciprocal" effects. (1) For it is the extensive reach of such processes, encompassing as they do "economic" as well as "noneconomic" factors, that explains the breadth and sophistication of their recommendations for development promotion. Seen in that light, it is grossly misleading to label both as "protectionists" (as defined in the mainstream trade literature). Both also supported that some international agreements or understanding be reached so that the underdeveloped countries would be given opportunities to implement their policy advice to catch up with the advanced. This has an interesting relevance to the current debate on globalization.

Myrdal's Cumulative Causation and List's Reciprocal Effects

Among institutionalists, Myrdal's conceptualization of the process of circular and cumulative causation needs no introduction. It is mentioned in Belshaw 1959, except that it does not constitute a central focal point. Indeed, its mentioning is scattered among different parts of his discussion (418, 424,425-7). One reason for its subsumption could be that he did not find in List's National System a clear counterpart to Myrdal's cumulative causation. That is not to say that he did not have some inkling (419, 431). At one point he wrote, "Though List makes no mention of the process of circular causation the recognition of the importance of this is implicit in his discussion of agriculture and manufacture" (428). Elaboration on this is found several pages earlier, where he quoted List: "'a continuous increase of the agricultural surplus produce will occasion a continuous increase of the demand for manufacturing workmen.' If a state does succeed in commencing development then 'agriculture and industrial productive power will increase reciprocally, and indeed ad infinitum'" (423, from List [1841] 1991, 155). (2) As it turns out, there are many more dimensions to these "reciprocal," or "mutual dependence," effects in List's works that render them strongly resembling cumulative causation processes.

   Thus, within the manufacturing sector,

   all individual branches of industry have the closest reciprocal
   effect on one another; ... the perfecting of one branch prepares and
   promotes the perfecting of all others; . … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Analyzing and Arresting Uneven Development: Friedrich List and Gunnar Myrdal Compared
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.