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Comment

JONAS AGELL

This paper addresses an important question. What kind of social institutions, in a very broad sense, are likely to promote growth and development? Why have countries as diverse as Austria, Finland, Korea and Taiwan been success stories in the post-war period, while things have gone sour for countries like Peru and Uruguay?

The paper suggests a definite answer. The success stories have been characterized by a high degree of social corporatism. A powerful state, spearheaded by a competent bureaucracy, has actively intervened in the development process. The private sector has been dominated by a few large players, primarily organized labour and nation-wide business confederations. Strategic decisions on economic and industrial policy have been taken in concert between the state and the private players. The state has used a comprehensive package of sticks and carrots to mobilize and allocate investment in an environment characterized by increasing returns to scale and various growth externalities. An important additional role for the state has been to internalize various distributional conflicts, and to establish a reasonable measure of social harmony. Finally, the successful late industrializers have all been exposed to some stringent external threat, that has imposed an efficiency discipline on their ruling elites.

The paper draws much on the literature on social corporatism in already developed economies. In this literature, social corporatism is sometimes used as a more or less direct synonym for the economics of social democracy (this is particularly true in parts of the political science literature). As a prototype example, we may think of Sweden in the 1950s and 1960s. According to some writers this particular episode can be viewed as the realization of a highly successful social contract between the state, labour

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