The Economic Impact on Under-Developed Societies: Essays on International Investment and Social Change

By S. Herbert Frankel | Go to book overview

ESSAY III
CONCEPTS OF INCOME AND WELFARE AND THE INTERCOMPARABILITY OF NATIONAL INCOME AGGREGATES

I. INTRODUCTION

IN this essay I propose to discuss certain conceptual problems concerning the meaning of income and product in underdeveloped countries which have confronted investigators endeavouring to compare national income aggregates of advanced societies with similar calculations attempted for so-called under-developed or pre-industrial communities. The same problem arises, as I myself have found in the course of making official estimates of the National Income of South Africa, in trying to arrive at a satisfactory meaning for income aggregates calculated for a society like South Africa which incorporates so greatly differing 'economies' as that of the indigenous peoples of the country on the one hand, and that of the modern economic sector on the other.

At the outset I wish to record the benefit I have received from the work of Professor Simon Kuznets on this question, particularly from his valuable paper on 'National Income and Industrial Structure.'1 This paper exhibits the impasse which confronts national income calculators when they endeavour to compare income aggregates for developed and under-developed societies--or as Professor Kuznets calls them, 'industrial and pre-industrial' countries; by which he denotes, 'on the one hand, an economy dominated by business enterprises, using advanced industrial techniques and ordinarily with a large proportion of its population in large cities; and, on the other hand, an economy in which a large part of production is within the family and rural community, a minor share of resources is devoted to advanced industrial production and a minor part of its population lives in cities.'

The crux of the difficulty of definition arises from the

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1
Read before the Washington Meeting of the Econometric Society in September 1947; Econometrica, Volume 17 Supplement, July, 1949.

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