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Why are some countries rich and others — Belarus?

Почему одни страны богатые, а другие — Беларусь?

Why are some countries rich and others poor? The question posed in the title of the book-bestseller by economists Daren Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. Over 700 pages, they answer this question and lead evidence, and at the same time and retell a lot of interesting cases from the history of the world.

Почему одни страны богатые, а другие — Беларусь?

Natalia Ryabova graduated from the Belarusian state University (sociology), University (philosophy), in 2013, he received the degree of MBA (master of business administration). The Director of the School of young managers of public administration SYMPA, which operates a research center BIPART (Belarusian Institute for reform and transformation of public administration), site “Kosht urada” dedicated to the public finances, and the website “public procurement” monitor public procurement. Photo from personal archive

If it is very short, the answer to this question is simple: the rich in those countries where inclusive political and economic institutions, that is, a large number of people has the ability to influence political decisions and to participate freely in the economy. And the poor, respectively, those in which these institutions are extractive. This means that the political and economic power is used in order for her to preserve and enhance — through various types of exploitation of others.

This is quite simple answer the authors confirm by many examples from different countries in the past, we can say, the whole history of mankind. In fact, it is not obvious why the same or similar conditions or events which lead to different results in different countries.

For example, the pandemic of plague in the fourteenth century. From a demographic point of view, the consequences were similar in Western and Eastern Europe — up to half of the population died. Socio-economic consequences, respectively, also: was not enough manpower, people began to demand greater freedom from owners. However, in England, the bargaining power of peasants was enough to succeed. In Eastern Europe, however, landowners began to seize new land, and their estates, and so larger than their Western neighbors, became more extensive. Instead of purchasing new rights of East European peasants were threatened with the loss of even existing. So the same plague led to different consequences.

But where, in England, the peasants have such bargaining power? According to the authors, the gradual movement towards pluralism has begun there since the Magna Carta. In General, such opportunities for empowerment appear at the onset of historical break points, such as the Glorious revolution in England or the Foundation of the colony of Jamestown in North America. In other words, when certain factors lead to a weakening of the ruling circles and the strengthening of the opposition and as a result, the incentives to build a more pluralistic society.

Of course, pluralism, parliamentarism and democracy do not occur simultaneously. The country of the lucky ones who have managed to develop inclusive institutions over the last three centuries, into the analogue of a vicious circle, but, on the contrary, beneficial. Inclusive political institutions prevent the usurpation of power and give rise to inclusive economic institutions, which enable talented people to get rich, and get financial welfare, they are engaged in securing their rights. Same story with the media: inclusive institutions allow the media to work, or rather, does not give anyone the opportunity to close unwanted edition; new rich people support a free media, because it is in their interest. But if it is not in their interests — the same can not so easy to plug: a virtuous circle reproduces itself. So winning all the big political rights to ever-larger segments of society.

What about the extractive institutions? They really are also compatible with economic growth. The elite would like the possibility of more economic growth to extract more benefits. But such growth is not sustainable, because, first, it requires innovations, they are always accompanied by creative destruction, and it in turn brings a lot to the economic situation and could destabilize the political system. Therefore, a shrewd elites prefer just not to touch anything. And secondly, as the power in the conditions of extractive institutions is the best thing, there is always a lot of wishing to seize it, then there will always be many forces pushing society towards political instability.

In countries like Austria-Hungary and Russia in the late XIX — early XX centuries economic institutions have maintained a high degree of extract content. There is a response to demands for wider political representation became not reforms or even talks, and repression because the elite had too much to lose, having lost power.

Extractive institutions can reproduce itself in another guise: the history of almost all African countries gained independence, is a story about how local elites, once in power, used it to continue the exploitation and exhaustion of resources of nature and people, often even more cruel than the colonizers.

In summary: “pluralism, the cornerstone of inclusive political institutions, requires access to political power was opened to General society, and therefore, when the starting point serve extractive institutions, allowing to power only to a narrow elite group, which means that you need to start with the distribution of power in society. <…> This approach is different from the Glorious revolution from simple replacement of one elite to another. The English roots of pluralism can be seen that the overthrow of James II took place as a result of actions of a broad coalition of merchants, Industrialists, the petty nobility, and even many members of the English aristocracy did not want to be on the side of the crown.”

Well, why should we care of these political economy arguments of the economists? What can we say about Belarus on the basis of this theory?

First of all, we, of course, mixed case, there are also extractive and inclusive institutions. However, the most imporant one, and in our case it appears to be all the same extract, though somewhat limited. The elite quite a few checks and balances, which forced her to look to the views of other groups. And driven they appear to be the motive of maintaining power, and why do we have here “frozen in time”. Much is written and claimed about innovation, it the country, technology and so on rapid development, however, it rests on such barriers, that further scientific journals and news about the Grand plans can’t break through.

Another conclusion that can be drawn, it is also quite obvious: no one from the outside will not bring us neither genuine democracy nor a sudden respect for human rights or the rights of ownership. In all cases, who knows the history, is the result of the struggle, not necessarily bloody and revolutionary, it could take the form of courts, petitions, cries in Parliament, strikes, negotiations, bidding, etc.

In short, “in the struggle you will attain your right”.
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