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Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?

  • Richard A. Easterlin (a1)

The worldwide spread of modern economic growth has depended chiefly on the diffusion of a body of knowledge concerning new production techniques. The acquisition and application of this knowledge by different countries has been governed largely by whether their populations have acquired traits and motivations associated with formal schooling. To judge from the historical experience of the world's twenty-five largest nations, the establishment and expansion of formal schooling has depended in large part on political conditions and ideological influences. The limited spread of modern economic growth before World War II has thus been due, at bottom, to important political and ideological differences throughout the world that affected the timing of the establishment and expansion of mass schooling. Since World War II there has been growing uniformity among the nations of the world, modern education systems have been established almost everywhere, and the spread of modern economic growth has noticeably accelerated.

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1 Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York, 1931), vol. V, p. 410.

2 Easterlin, Richard A., “Economic Growth: Overview,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York, 1969), vol. IV, pp. 395408.

3 Modern Economic Growth: Rate, Structure and Spread (New Haven, 1966), chap. I.

4 The Creation of Knowledge and Technique: Today's Task and Yesterday's Experience,” Daedalus, 109 (Winter 1980), 111.

5 For similar views see Kuznets, Growth;Cameron, Rondo, “The Diffusion of Technology as a Problem in Economic History,” Economic Geography, 51 (07 1975), 217–30;Parker, William N., “Economic Development in Historical Perspective,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, 10 (10 1961), 17;Woodruff, William, Impact of Western Man (New York, 1967);Bairoch, Paul, The Economic Development of the Third World since 1900 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1975);Hanson, John Robert, Trade in Transition: Exports from the Third World, 1840–1900 (New York, 1980);Ashworth, William, A Short History of the International Economy, 1850–1950 (London, 1952). A valuable framework for the study of international political development is presented in Rokkan, Stein, “Dimensions of State Formation and Nation Building: A Paradigm for Research on Variations within Europe,” in Tilly, Charles, ed., The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton, 1975), pp. 562600.

6 Henderson, William O., Britain and Industrial Europe, 3d ed. (Leicester, 1972);Landes, David S., The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present (Cambridge, 1969);Tuge, Hideomi, ed., Historical Development of Science and Technology in Japan (Tokyo, 1961);Saxonhouse, Gary, “A Tale of Japanese Technological Diffusion in the Meiji Period,” this JOURNAL, 34 (03 1974), 149–65;Strassman, W. Paul, Risk and Technological Innovation (Ithaca, 1959).

7 Rosenberg, Nathan, “Factors Affecting the Payoff to Technological Innovation,” unpublished document prepared for the National Science Foundation (1974). See also Teece, David J., The Multinational Corporation and the Resource Cost of International Technology Transfer (Cambridge, MA, 1976).

8 Rosenberg, Nathan, “Economic Development and the Transfer of Technology: Some Historical Perspectives,” Technology and Culture, 11 (10 1970), 555, emphasis added.

9 Svennilson, Ingvar, “Technical Assistance: The Transfer of Industrial Know-how to Non-Industrialized Countries,” in Berill, Kenneth, ed., Economic Development with Special Reference to East Asia (New York, 1964), p. 408, emphasis in original.

10 Arrow, Kenneth J., “Classification Notes on the Production and Transmission of Technological Knowledge,” American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 52 (05 1969), 33; see also Spencer, Daniel Lloyd, The Technological Gap in Perspective (New York, 1970).

11 Hyman, Herbert H., Wright, Charles R., and Reed, John Shelton, The Enduring Effects of Education (Chicago, 1975), p. 109.

12 Tuge, Science; for early data on Japanese students studying abroad, see Schairer, Reinhold, Die Student en im internationalen Kulturleben: Beitrage zur Frage des Studiums infremdem Lande (Munster in Westfalen, 1927), chap. 1. See also Henderson, Europe.

13 North, Douglass C. and Thomas, Robert Paul, The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History (Cambridge, 1973);Hughes, Jonathan R. T., Social Control in the Colonial Economy (Charlottesville, 1976).

14 The countries chosen were those with 1960 populations greater than 18 million. Because of insufficient historical data, Poland, Pakistan, and Viet Nam are omitted.

15 Among other comparability problems are the occasional use of attendance rather than enrollment data, variations in the time of year for which enrollment is reported, differences in the length of the school day and school year, and differences in schools included in the “primary” category (e.g., kindergartens).

16 For other studies of enrollment rates see UNESCO, World Survey of Education, vol. 2 (New York, 1958), pp. 4260;Peaslee, Alexander L., “Education's Role in Development,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, 17 (04 1969), 293318. Although enrollment is used here in preference to literacy because it is a more reliable indicator of the expansion of formal mass schooling, valuable work has been done to develop historical literacy data. See Flora, Peter, “Historical Processes of Social Mobilization: Urbanization and Literacy, 1850–1965,” in Eisenstadt, Shmuel N. and Rokkan, Stein, eds., Building States and Nations, vol. I (Beverly Hills, 1973), pp. 213–58;Cipolla, Carlo M., Literacy and Development in the West (Baltimore, 1969);UNESCO, Progress of Literacy in Various Countries (Paris, 1953);UNESCO, World Illiteracy at Mid-Century (Paris, 1957);Abel, James F. and Bond, Norman J., “Illiteracy in the Several Countries of the World,” Department of the Interior Bureau of Education Bulletin No. 4 (1929), pp. 168.

17 Dore, Ronald P., Education in Tokugawa Japan (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1965);Passin, Herbert, Society and Education in Japan (New York, 1965). A number of writers stress the role of education in Japanese economic growth. See, for example, Ohkawa, Kazushi and Rosovsky, Henry, “A Century of Japanese Economic Growth,” in Lockwood, William W., ed., The State and Economic Enterprise in Japan (Princeton, 1965), pp. 5859, and Yasuba, Yasukichi, “Another Look at the Tokugawa Heritage with Special Reference to Social Conditions,” unpublished paper, The Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Kyoto University, October 1979.

18 Parker, William N., “Perspective,” p. 1. For valuable discussions of some of the issues in this paragraph see Anderson, C. Arnold and Bowman, Mary Jean, eds., Education and Economic Development (Chicago, 1965);Anderson, C. Arnold and Bowman, Mary Jean, “Education and Economic Modernization in Historical Perspective” and Lawrence Stone, “Introduction,” both in Stone, Lawrence, ed., Schooling and Society (Baltimore, 1976), pp. xi–xvii, 3–19;Bowman, Mary Jean and Anderson, C. Arnold, “Concerning the Role of Education in Development,” and Martin Carnoy, “Education and Economic Development: The First Generation,” Economic Development and Cultural Change: Essays in Honor of Bert F. Hoselitz, 25 (Supplement, 1977), 428–48;Harbison, Frederick and Meyers, Charles A., Education, Manpower, and Economic Growth (New York, 1964);Cameron, , “Diffusion”; The World Bank, World Development Report (Washington, D. C., 1980), chap. 5.

19 Coleman, James S., ed., Education and Political Development (Princeton, 1965);Bowles, Samuel and Gintis, Herbert, Schooling in Capitalist America (New York, 1976);Carnoy, Martin, Education as Cultural Imperialism (New York, 1974);Dreeben, Robert, On What Is Learned in School (Reading, MA, 1968);Foster, Philip, Education and Social Change in Ghana (Chicago, 1965);Graff, Harvey J., The Literacy Myth (New York, 1979);Katz, Michael B., Class, Bureaucracy, and Schools (New York, 1971).

20 Inkeles, Alex and Smith, David H., Becoming Modern (Cambridge, 1974);Inkeles, Alex, “The School as a Context for Modernization,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 14, no. 3–4 (0912. 1973), 163–79;McClelland, David C., “Does Education Accelerate Economic Growth?Economic Development and Cultural Change, 14 (04 1966), 257–78;Form, William, “Comparative Industrial Sociology and the Convergence Hypothesis,” Annual Review of Sociology, 5 (1979), 125.

21 Inkeles and Smith, Becoming Modern, chap. 9. Formal education is, to be sure, not the only institution to create modern men; some of the new economic institutions accompanying modern economic growth—most notably, the factory—also work in this way. Thus, there is the possibility of growth “by pulling up on one's own bootstraps”—factones once established create personality changes conducive to further economic growth. But the population exposed to factory experience is much more limited than that potentially reached by a formal school system. Moreover, the evidence indicates that the impact of formal schooling in creating the personality traits of “modern man” is much greater than that of any other institution—more than twice as great, for example, as that of the next most important institution, the factory.

22 For example, for 90 countries in the period 1970–74, the adjusted R2 between primary and secondary enrollment rates is. 51; between primary and higher,.41. Data are from UNESCO, Statistical Yearbook, 1976 (Paris, 1977).

23 In the nineteenth century, educational modernization in the Ottoman Empire, to the extent it occuffed, stressed education of the elite; see Kazamias, Andreas M., Education and the Quest for Modernity in Turkey (Chicago, 1966). The 1950s data for India presented by Harbison and Meyers suggest a disproportion of secondary and higher education relative to primary (Manpower, p. 47).

24 Thut, I. N. and Adams, Don, Educational Patterns in Contemporary Societies (New York, 1964), p.62.

25 As quoted in Mecham, J.Lloyd, Church and State in Latin America (Durham, NC, 1934), P. 406.

26 See, for example, Mitch, David, “The Impact of a Growing Demand of Literate Workers on the Spread of Literacy in Nineteenth Century England”, presented at the Workshop in Economic History, University of Chicago, no. 7980–2 (Oct. 1979).

27 This has been explicitly recognized in recent economic history research. See, e.g., Field, Alexander James, “Economic and Demographic Determinants of Educational Commitment: Massachusetts, 1855”, this JOURNAL, 39 (06 1979), 439–57.

28 Flora notes the close association in a number of countries between the date of independence and the date when compulsory education was established. See Flora, “Mobilization”, pp. 230–37.

29 Davis, Lance E. and Huttenback, Robert A., “Public Expenditures and Private Profit: Budgetary Decisions in the British Empire, 1860–1912,” American Economic Review, 67 (02 1977), 282–88.

30 Landé, Carl H., “The Philippines”, in Coleman, James S., ed., Political Development, pp. 313–52;Etö, Shinkichi, “Asianism and the Duality of Japanese Colonialism, 1879–1945”, in Blussé, L., Wesseling, H. L., and Winius, G. D.. eds., History and Underdevelopment (Paris, 1980):Grajdanzev, Andrew J., Modern Korea (New York, 1944).

31 On Russia and the USSR, see Hans, Nicholas, History of Russian Educational Policy, 1701–1917 (New York, 1964), p. 65, and Azrael, Jeremy R., “Soviet Union”, in Coleman, , ed., Political Development, pp. 233–71.

32 Mecham, Church, pp. 245–47, 376–77, 388–93. In Brazil, however, the church does not seem to have played as critical a role in the growth of mass education; there a shift in political control from conservatives to liberals appears to have been more important. See Burns, E.Bradford, A History of Brazil (New York, 1970), pp. 290, 302–03.

33 On Turkey, see Kazamias, Turkey, pp. 73–74; Iran, Farmayan, Hafez Farman, “The Forces of Modernization in Nineteenth Century Iran: A Historical Survey”, in Polk, William R. and Chambers, Richard L., eds., Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East (Chicago, 1968), p. 123. In Egypt, Islam seems to have been less of an obstacle to educational change; see Vatikiotis, P. J., The Modern of Egypt (New York, 1969).

34 Monroe, Paul, A Text-Book in the History of Education (London, 1907), p. 407. Japan seems have had its own version of the “Protestant ethic”; see Bellah, Robert N., Tokugawa Religion (New York, 1957).

35 Becker, Carl L., The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers (New Haven, 1932).

36 Cf. Thut and Adams, Educational Patterns, p. 113: “In the end, Frenchmen committed themselves to the ideas derived from humanism, rather than from Roman Catholic or Protestant theologies, a development which had profound educational consequences.”

37 The leading role of non-conformists in the British industrial revolution is emphasized in Everett Hagen, E., On the Theory of Social Change (Homewood, III., 1962), chap. 13. Valuable discussions of early American education growth are Cremin, Lawrence A., American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607–1783 (New York, 1970);Bailyn, Bernard, Education in the Forming of American Society (New York, 1960);Fishlow, Albert, “The American Common School Revival: Fact or Fancy?” in Rosovsky, Henry, ed., Industrialization in Two Systems: Essays in Honor of Alexander Gerschenkron (New York, 1966). On England, see Jansen, Marius B. and Stone, Lawrence, “Education and Modernization in Japan and England,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 9 (01 1967), 208–32;Curtis, Stanley J. and Boultwood, M.E.A., An Introductory History of English Education since 1800 (London, 1977);Schofield, Roger S., “Dimensions of Illiteracy, 1750–1850”, Explorations in Economic History, 10 (Summer 1973), 437–54;West, E. G., “Literacy and the Industrial Revolution,” Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 24 (08 1978), 369–83.

38 Note, however, the numerous references above to recent economic history research on education. Gallman's recent presidential address also argues for a merger of the new social and economic history; Davis's, of the new political and economic history; see Gallman, Robert E., “Some Notes on the New Social History,” this JOURNAL, 37 (03 1977), 312; and Davis, Lance E., “It's a Long, Long Road to Tipperary, or Reflections on Organized Violence, Protection Rates, and Related Topics: The New Political History,” this JOURNAL, 40 (04 1980), 116.

39 From The Sakuddei television program as it appeared in the Odyssey series, produced and copyrighted by Public Broadcasting Associates, Inc., 1980. The original Sakuddei program was produced and copyrighted by Granada Television. The Sakuddei is a tribal clan living on an island off the west coast of Sumatra.

40 Morawetz, David, Twenty-Five Years of Economic Developmeni, 1950 to 1975 (Washington, D.C., 1977);Summers, Robert, Kravis, Irving B., and Heston, Alan, “International Comparison of Real Product and Its Composition: 1950–77,” The Review of Income and Wealth, Series 26, No. 1 (03 1980);Hagen, Everett E. and Hawrylyshyn, Oli, “Analysis of world Income and Growth, 1955–1965”, Economic Development and Cultural Change, 18, no. 1, part II (10 1969).

41 Easterlin, Richard A., “Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence”, Nations and Households in Economic Growth: Essays in Honor of Moses Abramovitz (New York, 1974);Easterlin, Richard A., “Does Money Buy Happiness?” The Public Interest, no. 30 (Winter 1973).

42 de Solla, Derek J. Price, Science since Babylon (New Haven, 1961), chap. 5.

43 Meyer, John W., Boli-Bennett, John, and Chase-Dunn, Christopher, “Convergence and Divergence in Development,” in Inkeles, Alex, ed., Annual Review of Sociology, 1 (Palo Alto, 1975), p. 228.

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