Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Coatsworth versus Engerman & Sokollof

The Engerman & Sokollof thesis ("Factor Endowments, Institutions, and Differential Paths of Growth among New World Economies", published for the first time in How Latin America Fell Behind) asserts that factor endowments determined the development of the New World. The initial concentration of wealth in Hispanic America led to institutions that kept these societies unequal and restrained the economic growth.
I do believe in their story. My faith, however, has been shaken by the paper:

Coatsworth, John "Structures, Endowments, and Institutions in Economic History of Latin America". Latin American Research Review; 2005, Vol. 40 Issue 3, p. 126-144.

He presents many criticisms, but the main one is that the concentration of land in Hispanic America was not much higher than in the British colonies or even England (!!!). Surely, the issue will not be settled soon, but Coatsworth's paper is really insightful and a an absolute must.

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