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The West and the Rest in the World Economy: 1000–2030
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Angus Maddison, World Economics, December 2008
This paper analyses the forces determining per capita income levels of nations over the past millennium and the prospects to 2030. In the year 1000 AD, Asian countries were in the lead. By 1820, per capita GDP in Western Europe and the US was twice the Asian average. The divergence had grown much bigger by 1950, but by the 1970s, several Asian countries – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore – had achieved considerable catch up. Since then, there has been a major surge in China and the beginning of a similar phenomenon in India. As a result, the Asian share of world income has risen steadily and, by 2030, will be fairly close to what it was in 1820. Maddison concludes by comparing his analysis with the Malthusian interpretation of Oded Galor.
False Perspective: The UNDP View of the World
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David Henderson, World Economics, March 2000
Despite some searching and unanswered criticisms of its treatment of statistical evidence, the UNDP Human Development Report has become established as a widely-quoted and influential survey of the world scene. The 1999 Report, reviewed here, focuses on ‘globalization’. This is described as a dominant influence on the recent economic fortunes of developing countries in particular, and as a primary cause of continuing poverty and growing inequality in the world. The author argues that the Report provides neither argument nor evidence in support of this thesis; that it takes no account of other factors that have strongly influenced economic performance; that its main prescription for the world, of reforms in ‘global governance’, is largely beside the point; and that its whole approach is crudely anti-liberal. The author concludes by placing the Report, as also the economists who have aligned themselves with it, in the wider context of anti-liberalism today.



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