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The biggest takeaway I had from reading Rodrick’s paper was the truth in the answer “it depends” when discussing economic growth and development. On the other hand, I thought it interesting that Rodrick identifies “universal principles” and says, “countries that have adhered to these principles-no matter how unorthodox their manner of doing so may have been-have done well,” (13). Given that much of the paper provides examples of and compares the (many) different ways countries have achieved economic growth I was surprised he went as far as to identify such principles. Furthermore, I wonder if the principles are simply rough commonalities or legitimate consistent factors for starting and sustaining growth. If the latter, I feel like there would be more definite beliefs and policies on promoting economic growth. Overall, I was not as impressed with this paper as I have been by previous ones read in the class.

Alex Fox

Rodrik's discussion initially came off as some sort of a cop-out, or as a defense for broad economic growth strategies. From the onset, the point didn't seem that insightful, of course there is no magic universal economic growth strategy. However, as Rodrik picks apart different case studies, various success stories of growth (i.e South Korea, Taiwan, China, India) and draws lines between them all, insight is drawn. Ultimately, we arrive at a conclusion that has come up often in our class. Economic growth principles are made ceteris paribus, but can never be applied in a vacuum. Therefore, the pieces that constitute these policies may lead to success in growth, but it is up to policy makers to adequately judge the environments in which they are being implemented. From there, it remains true that economic growth is rooted in these standard economic principles, but requires ingenuity, and creativity in policy making to be fruitful and sustainable.

Benjamin Bayles

I found the concluding remarks of this paper extremely powerful. “It’s because somebody knows something about it that we can’t talk about physics. It’s the things that nobody knows anything about that we can discuss.” While it is clearly an exaggeration it does stand as a reminder of how little we really know. Unsurprisingly, Economics like so many other fields has no “universal principal” which we can apply to help other struggling countries around the world. The principals that China has implemented will not (and has not) necessarily work for India, Latin America or Africa. Therefore as we aim to solve each regions problems contextually I feel the “four stylized facts” about policies act as a good starting point. While all are obviously important I feel the fourth point about sustained growth is the most difficult and requires the most effort. When it comes to developing anything really this is where I feel most of the failure comes from.

Genny Francis

I thought Rodrik’s discussion of variations in development models to fit different countries as well as his emphasis on the importance of institutions was interesting and is similar to what we have been talking about in my Econ 281 class. We recently talked about research Professor Grajzl has done in Ukraine and is publishing a paper on which looked at the development of financial markets in the country and specifically the importance of the formation of private credit bureaus in increasing loans, as compared to the public credit bureaus, which were ineffective. This occurred in Ukraine in large part due to the unique history of the country, and I thought this was a good example of Rodrik’s point about how the implementation of policy should vary between different countries.

Lauren Howard

Like many of my classmates commented before me, this paper's findings, that successful development strategies vary depending upon the country in which they are implemented, did not surprise me. I read this paper as a further testament (building off our past discussions) to the importance of modeling within economics. Rodrik's evidence illustrates that no one model should rule our way of thinking, and we should not limit ourselves to policies that have worked in the past (particularly when discussing policies to be implemented in places with vastly different cultures and existing infrastructures). It seems to be most effective to first, like any good economist, consider the models, and what they indicate the best policies may be. Following that, we must become better at considering the ways in which different cultures might respond differently and may not fit nicely into the assumptions of the economic models.

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