Douglas North
Washington U. at St Louis



(Thursday, 24th May 2007)

Title : The Natural State, or Why Effective Economic Reform is so Difficult

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We know a great deal about the sources of economic development but we do not know how to achieve it. The reason is that the theory we have is deficient. I advance a new approach to the study of economic change and development.
The political and economic social order that tends to evolve --the natural state-- is consistent with our genetic heritage and the self interest of the elites that tend to evolve over time but does not produce sustained economic growth.
Moreover, it is extremely difficult to change and create the open-access social order that is the source of modern economic growth. I explore the characteristics of the natural state, the open-access social order, and the nature of the transition from one to the other.

Bibliographical references :

Must read reference : Douglass C North, John Joseph Wallis and Barry R. Weingast [2006], "A Conceptual Framework to Interpret Recorded Human History." NBER Working Paper n°12795.