Anatoly Vorobey (avva) wrote,
Anatoly Vorobey

о продуктивности экономики и ментальности населения (англ.)

Филип Гринспан пересказывает интересную, по-видимому, книгу A Farewell to Alms экономиста Грегори Кларка. У Кларка есть нестандартный ответ на вопрос о том, что послужило причиной экономического роста западных стран в 18-19 веках.
Ask a typical economist for an economic growth recipe and he or she will say "low taxes, property rights, security and stability." Clark has assembled data on wages, prices, and rents going back to the year 1200 in England. He demonstrates that England circa 1300 had all of the things that a modern economist says are sufficient to guarantee economic growth. Yet England's economy stagnated for centuries.

What about the industrial revolution? Doesn't that explain why per-capita living standards in the West increased so rapidly? Clark argues that Malthus was right: population will expand in response to an improvement in resources or technology. The result of an increased food supply will not be an improvement in the average person's standard of living, but an increase in the number of people, all living at the subsistence level.

Evidence that industrial technology alone is not sufficient to generate growth is supplied by all of the poor countries in our 21st Century world. Nearly all of the world's scientific and technical knowledge is available in textbooks, journal articles, patents, Web pages, and other public sources of information. A country that has not invested one dime in research or engineering can, practically for free, tap into the fruits of all of the world's hardest-working nerds. A dusty corner of Africa or Asia might be 10 or 15 years behind Japan, Germany, or the U.S., but should not be 50 years behind.

Clark looks at why India did not wipe out England in the production of textiles. Indian mills had the same machines and the same managers, sent out from England, as their competitors back in England. Yet Indian workers were so unproductive that English and American mills remained competitive. Clark gets the rates of "doffs per hour", in which a person removed a full spindle of yarn from a spinning machine. An Indian worker could do 120 per hour, compared to 460 for a Briton and 770 for an American. The machines and tasks performed were identical.

Clark argues that the more advanced the technology, the greater the wage premium for high quality labor. A small mistake in a preindustrial agricultural process meant a tiny reduction in the quantity of grain delivered. A small mistake on an integrated circuit fabrication line means the scrapping of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of product. A worker who does not follow checklists consistently is not worth employing in a modern factory, even at a wage of 1 cent per hour.

What lifted England out of its centuries of torpor? Clark argues that it was a very gradual rise in literacy and a genetic personal tendency towards future-mindedness, both caused by the fact that wealthier men had more surviving children than poor men. Because the economy was stagnant for hundreds of years, the inevitable result was downward mobility. The children of a rich man would become small-scale farmers or artisans. Eventually most of the English were somehow descended from people with a psychological propensity to save and invest rather than leap at instant gratification.

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