Third Luca d’Agliano Lecture in Development Economics

Third Luca d’Agliano Lecture in Development Economics: “Globalization and Underdevelopment in the Pre-Modern Third World” by Jeffrey G. Williamson (Laird Belle Professor of Economics, Harvard University), 31 March 2006, 5.30 p.m., Fondazione Luigi Einaudi, Palazzo d’Azeglio, Via Principe Amedeo 34, 10123 Turin.

A large GDP per capita gap appeared between the industrial core and the poor periphery between 1810 and 1940, the periphery producing, increasingly, primary products. The terms of trade facing the periphery also underwent a secular boom then bust, peaking in the 1870s or 1890s. These terms of trade trends appear to have been exogenous to the periphery. Additionally, the terms of trade facing the periphery exhibited relatively high volatility. This lecture argues that these correlations are causal, that secular growth and volatility in the terms of trade had asymmetric effects on core and periphery. On the upswing, the secular rise in its terms of trade had powerful de-industrialization effects in the periphery. Over the full cycle 1810-1940, terms of trade volatility suppressed accumulation and growth in the periphery as well.

Jeffrey G. Williamson teaches and does research on economic history and the contemporary Third World at Harvard University. He is Laird Belle Professor of Economics, Faculty Associate at the Centre for International Development and at the eatherhead Centre for International Affairs and Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research. In the past he was, amongst other appointments, Master of Mather House at Harvard University, Chairman of the Harvard Economics Department and President of the Economic History Association. His research topics mainly focus on growth accumulation, inequality during past and present industrial revolutions, migration, the demographic transition in developing countries, urbanization and globalization. Of his two new research topics, one explores the evolution of world factor prices and living standards since 1820, with collection and analysis of factor commodity price data covering the OECD, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, Latin America and Asia. The second project aims at studying economic change in the Third World before 1940, with particular reference to terms of trade, industrialisation, South-South mass migration and the underlying economic-demographic fundamentals of growth. Jeffrey G. Williamson has published widely on related issues, both in books and in economic journals such as the Journal of Economic History and the American Economic Review. His more recent awards and prizes include the Hughes Prize for Teaching Excellence awarded by the Economic History Association and two Galbraith Prizes for best teacher in Harvard’s graduate Economics Programme.