Read The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities by Mancur Olson Free Online
Book Title: The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities|
The size of the: 554 KB
Edition: Yale University Press
Date of issue: September 10th 1984
The author of the book: Mancur Olson
Format files: PDF
ISBN 13: 9780300030792
Read full description of the books The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities:The years since World War II have seen rapid shifts in the relative positions of different countries and regions. Leading political economist Mancur Olson offers a new and compelling theory to explain these shifts in fortune and then tests his theory against evidence from many periods of history and many parts of the world.
“[T]his elegant, readable book. . . sets out to explain why economies succumb to the ‘British disease,’ the kind of stagnation and demoralization that is now sweeping Europe and North America. . . . A convincing book that could make a big difference in the way we think about modern economic problems.”—Peter Passell, The New York Times Book Review
“Schumpeter and Keynes would have hailed the insights Olson gives into the sicknesses of the modern mixed economy.”—Paul A. Samuelson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“One of the really important books in social science of the past half-century.”—Scott Gordon, The Canadian Journal of Economics
“The thesis of this brilliant book is that the longer a society enjoys political stability, the more likely it is to develop powerful special-interest lobbies that in turn make it less efficient economically.”—Charles Peters, The Washington Monthly
“Remarkable. The fundamental ideas are simple, yet they provide insight into a wide array of social and historical issues. . . . The Rise and Decline of Nations promises to be a subject of productive interdisciplinary argument for years to come.”—Robert O. Keohane, Journal of Economic Literature
“I urgently recommend it to all economists and to a great many non-economists.”—Gordon Tullock, Public Choice
“Olson’s theory is illuminating and there is no doubt that The Rise and Decline of Nations will exert much influence on ideas and politics for many decades to come.”—Pierre Lemieux, Reason
Co-winner of the 1983 American Political Science Association’s Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book on U.S. national policy
Read information about the authorAmerican economist and social scientist who, at the time of his death, worked at the University of Maryland, College Park. Among other areas, he made contributions to institutional economics on the role of private property, taxation, public goods, collective action and contract rights in economic development. Olson focused on the logical basis of interest group membership and participation. The reigning political theories of his day granted groups an almost primordial status. Some appealed to a natural human instinct for herding, others ascribed the formation of groups that are rooted in kinship to the process of modernization. Olson offered a radically different account of the logical basis of organized collective action.
In his first book, The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups (1965), he theorized that “only a separate and ‘selective’ incentive will stimulate a rational individual in a latent group to act in a group-oriented way”; that is, members of a large group will not act in the group's common interest unless motivated by personal gains (economic, social, etc.). He specifically distinguishes between large and small groups, the latter of which can act simply on a shared objective. Large groups, however, will not form or work towards a shared objective unless individual members are sufficiently motivated.
In 1982, he expanded the scope of his earlier work in an attempt to explain The Rise and Decline of Nations. The idea is that small distributional coalitions tend to form over time in countries. Groups like cotton-farmers, steel-producers, and labor unions will have the incentives to form lobby groups and influence policies in their favor. These policies will tend to be protectionist and anti-technology, and will therefore hurt economic growth; but since the benefits of these policies are selective incentives concentrated amongst the few coalitions members, while the costs are diffused throughout the whole population, the "Logic" dictates that there will be little public resistance to them. Hence as time goes on, and these distributional coalitions accumulate in greater and greater numbers, the nation burdened by them will fall into economic decline. Olson's idea is cited as an influence behind the Calmfors-Driffill hypothesis of collective bargaining.
In his final book, Power and Prosperity, Olson distinguished between the economic effects of different types of government, in particular, tyranny, anarchy and democracy. Olson argued that a "roving bandit" (under anarchy) has an incentive only to steal and destroy, whilst a "stationary bandit" (a tyrant) has an incentive to encourage a degree of economic success, since he will expect to be in power long enough to take a share of it. The stationary bandit thereby takes on the primordial function of government - protection of his citizens and property against roving bandits. Olson saw in the move from roving bandits to stationary bandits the seeds of civilization, paving the way for democracy, which improves incentives for good government by more closely aligning it with the wishes of the population.
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