In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Latin American Studies I discuss the origins of Argentina’s expansion in the long nineteenth century. It is largely an optimistic account of how globalisation led to progress in this remote part of the world. However, it does have a sting in its tail.
The differential impacts of globalisation rather than institutional differences best explain divergence among ex-European colonies.
Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James Robinson (AJR, 2002) famously argued that a ‘reversal of fortune’ had taken place among ex-European colonies. Generally speaking, they argued, those ex-colonies that had been richest in 1500 would become the poorest by the end of the twentieth century. This, they claimed, was due to the different institutions established by Europeans.
New data illustrate the extent to which economists have stopped discussing each other’s work.
Once upon a time, economists regularly used to publicly criticise each other’s work in academic journals. But not any more.
Over 30 years ago Andre Gunder Frank summarised the ideas that are promulgated by today’s ‘neo-institutionalists’ in debates about the ‘great divergence’.
Andre Gunder Frank‘s Lumpenbourgeoisie, Lumpendevelopment was published in 1972, almost half a century ago. Reading it now, it is surprising how contemporary it seems. Most notably, in a few pages Frank appears to provide a review of the ‘neo-institutionalist’ literature that is so prominent today in debates about the ‘great divergence’ between rich and poor countries.