The Role of Governments in Economic Growth in Early Modern Times
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 May 2010
A discussion fifty years ago of comparative economic history would have taken a broader view and would probably have been concerned very largely with exploring along the trails blazed by Max Weber and Marc Bloch. They were interested in many other aspects of economic history besides economic growth and I hope that similar broader interests will shortly show signs of reanimation. In spite of the present popularity of quantitative studies of changes in production, I hope some discussions at this meeting will examine comparative studies of forms of economic organization and the human qualities those structures reflected or generated. But my remarks here accord with the present preoccupation with that kind of economic history in which the all-important questions relate to the causes of economic growth. And I limit myself to one aspect only, the influence of governments.
- Papers Presented at the Thirty-fourth Annual Meeting of the Economic History Association
- Copyright © The Economic History Association 1975
3 As in the framework formulated by Kuznets, Simon, Towards a Theory of Economic Growth (New York: Norton, 1968)Google Scholar, reprinted from National Policy for Economic Welfare at Home and Abroad, ed. Lekachman, Robert, Columbia Bicentennial Series (New York: Doubleday, 1955), pp. 12–85Google Scholar.
4 A dear simple statement of the concept of surplus I have in mind and of its use in analyzing growth is in Furtado, Celso, Development and Underdevelopment (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1964), pp. 78–81Google Scholar. Furtado also uses a concept of tribute (pp. 86–89) similar to that explained below, although he does not define tribute the same way.
5 Davis, Lance E. and North, Douglass C., Institutional Change and American Economic Growth (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1971), p. 216CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On p. 213 it is defined in the sentence: “Not too surprisingly, effective redistribution requires that there exist some income that can be distributed without causing the death (economically or physically) of the previous recipient or without causing that recipient to withdraw the service that produced the income.”
6 The distinction between “distribution” and “redistribution” fades away once it is recognized that payment for the “service” referred to in the sentence quoted in footnote 5 is made only because of a property right created by a government. Governments can distribute income differently not only by a change in tax collections and disbursements but also by changes in property rights.
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19 Probably much less. Kuznets, Simon, “Capital Formation in Modern Economic Growth,” in his Population, Capital and Growth (New York, 1973)Google Scholar.
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24 Kuznets, Economic Growth of Nations, p. 78.