Икономическа история

The Birth of Plenty

How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created

Автор(и) : William J. Bernstein

Издател : McGraw-Hill

Място на издаване : New York, USA

Година на издаване : 2004

ISBN : 978-0-07-142192-8

Брой страници : 420

Език : английски


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“The Birth of Plenty is meant to be an economic history of the world. A tall order, for sure. But it delivers. Bernstein’s basic premise is that healthy institutions promote prosperity. In particular, countries must possess the following basic institutional ingredients in order to prosper:
1. Property Rights
2. The Scientific Method
3. Capital Markets
4. Effective Means of Transportation and Communication
After describing the historical development of each of these institutions, Bernstein then goes on to describe which countries were able to develop such institutions, which countries were not, and to what effect. He then follows the path of economic development for several of those countries. He concludes that the four institutional factors are not only sufficient, but necessary, for a country to achieve prosperity. For Bernstein, it’s all or nothing. It’s not enough to have any one, two, or three of those institutions. All four must be in place at the same time.
Bernstein then makes what I think is the boldest conjecture of the book (with some, though scant, supporting evidence). He asserts that the aforementioned four institutional characteristics not only lead to prosperity, but that they also precede democracy, but not vice versa. That is, you can’t simply thrust democracy onto an institutionally underdeveloped country and expect prosperity to follow. The path runs from institutional development to prosperity to democracy because, as he argues, an increasingly wealthy population will accept nothing less.
In the interest of full disclosure, this book provided an especially timely and interesting read for me since I’ve been getting into institutions lately. Some of my most recent academic work explores how cultural, political, and economic institutions impact the differential development and performance of firms across countries. So maybe I’m a bit biased. Nevertheless, I thought it was a truly fascinating read. And not fascinating in the interesting, but dry, academic way. The storytelling was superb.”

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