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The Rise and Decline of Nations

The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities

Mancur Olson
Copyright Date: 1982
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 276
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  • Book Info
    The Rise and Decline of Nations
    Book Description:

    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 Nationspromises 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 thatThe Rise and Decline of Nationswill exert much influence on ideas and politics for many decades to come."-Pierre Lemieux,ReasonCo-winner of the 1983 American Political Science Association's Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book on U.S. national policy

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15767-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 The Questions, and the Standards a Satisfactory Answer Must Meet
    (pp. 1-16)

    Many have been puzzled by the mysterious decline or collapse of great empires or civilizations and by the remarkable rise to wealth, power, or cultural achievement of previously peripheral or obscure peoples. The collapse of the Roman Empire in the West and its defeat by scattered tribes that would otherwise have been of no account is only one of many puzzling examples. On repeated occasions the imposing empires of China have decayed to the point where they could fall prey to far less numerous or sophisticated peoples like the Mongols or to uprisings by poor peasants in remote provinces. The...

  5. 2 The Logic
    (pp. 17-35)

    The argument of this book begins with a paradox in the behavior of groups. It has often been taken for granted that if everyone in a group of individuals or firms had some interest in common, then there would be a tendency for the group to seek to further this interest. Thus many students of politics in the United States for a long time supposed that citizens with a common political interest would organize and lobby to serve that interest. Each individual in the population would be in one or more groups and the vector of pressures of these competing...

  6. 3 The Implications
    (pp. 36-74)

    Although some of the implications of the logic in the preceding chapter were set out in that chapter, they were only the immediate implications of that logic alone. When we combine the argument in chapter 2 with some other logic and facts, and in particular with some standard findings from economics, we obtain a further set of implications. These second-level implications tell us what we should expect in certain types of societies and historical conditions if the theory we are now constructing is correct.

    The validity or invalidity of our argument depends not only on the correctness of the preceding...

  7. 4 The Developed Democracies Since World War II
    (pp. 75-117)

    In the preceding chapters I have argued, among other things, that associations to provide collective goods are for the most fundamental reasons difficult to establish, and that therefore even those groups that are in situations where there is a potential for organization usually will be able to organize only in favorable circumstances. As time goes on, more groups will have enjoyed favorable circumstances and overcome difficulties of collective action. The interest of organizational leaders insures that few organizations for collective action in stable societies will dissolve, so these societies accumulate special-interest organizations and collusions over time (Implication 2). These organizations,...

  8. 5 Jurisdictional Integration and Foreign Trade
    (pp. 118-145)

    As we know from table 1.1, the original six members of the European Economic Community have grown rapidly since World War II, particularly in comparison with Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and for some of the member countries the growth was fastest in the 1960s when the Common Market was becoming operational. Although I have offered some explanation of the most anomalous or puzzling cases of rapid growth in Germany and France, there has been no analysis of the rapid growth of the other four members of the Six. Such an analysis is necessary not...

  9. 6 Inequality, Discrimination, and Development
    (pp. 146-180)

    When testing any theory, it is by no means enough to find a few cases that seem to support it. If the predictions of the theory apply to a large number of cases and only a small number of those cases are discussed, then there is always the possibility that only those cases that happen to be consistent with the theory have been considered and that a thorough analysis of the available evidence would indicate that the theory was false. Unfortunately, the present theory has implications for such an incredibly wide array of phenomena in different countries and historical periods...

  10. 7 Stagflation, Unemployment, and Business Cycles: An Evolutionary Approach to Macroeconomics
    (pp. 181-238)

    Throughout this book I have emphasized the contributions of my predecessors and contemporaries, the parts of the present theory that are drawn from prior work, and the cumulative character of research in any science, be it physical or social. In part, perhaps, this emphasis rests on my observation that those writers who are most assertive about the novelty of their work and the failings of their predecessors are frequently the least original; if this observation is general, there is something to be said for the opposite strategy. I would prefer to construct a tower, an arch, or even a gargoyle...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 239-242)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 243-266)
  13. Index
    (pp. 267-273)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 274-274)