The Mystery of Economic Growth

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9780674046054: The Mystery of Economic Growth

Far more than an intellectual puzzle for pundits, economists, and policymakers, economic growth--its makings and workings--is a subject that affects the well-being of billions of people around the globe. In The Mystery of Economic Growth, Elhanan Helpman discusses the vast research that has revolutionized understanding of this subject in recent years, and summarizes and explains its critical messages in clear, concise, and accessible terms.

The tale of growth economics, as Helpman tells it, is organized around a number of themes: the importance of the accumulation of physical and human capital; the effect of technological factors on the rate of this accumulation; the process of knowledge creation and its influence on productivity; the interdependence of the growth rates of different countries; and, finally, the role of economic and political institutions in encouraging accumulation, innovation, and change.

One of the leading researchers of economic growth, Helpman succinctly reviews, critiques, and integrates current research--on capital accumulation, education, productivity, trade, inequality, geography, and institutions--and clarifies its relevance for global economic inequities. In particular, he points to institutions--including property rights protection, legal systems, customs, and political systems--as the key to the mystery of economic growth. Solving this mystery could lead to policies capable of setting the poorest countries on the path toward sustained growth of per capita income and all that that implies--and Helpman's work is a welcome and necessary step in this direction.

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About the Author:

Elhanan Helpman is Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade at Harvard University and the author of many research articles and books.

Review:

Professor Helpman's analytic powers and extraordinary grasp of the subject make his book, The Mystery of Economic Growth, the most comprehensive analysis of economic growth to date. The wide variety of relevant issues, from technological development through price and income causes and consequences to institutional changes are made available to the scholar and the interested general reader. The evaluations of different strands are judicious and wise, as well as highly representative of the literature. (Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Laureate in Economics)

Want to understand the latest and best thinking on economic growth? Then read this little book. Professor Helpman has provided an enormously useful reader's guide to what is known (and what is not known) about this complex, fascinating, and all-important subject. (Martin L. Weitzman, author of Income, Wealth, and the Maximum Principle)

Elhanan Helpman has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of economic growth. Here he steps back and assesses what we have learned. Each page shines with profound knowledge, erudition, and wisdom. (Andrei Shleifer, co-author of The Grabbing Hand: Government Pathologies and Their Cures)

In this book, Elhanan Helpman reviews and analyzes economic growth, by pointing out the importance of input accumulation, trade, inequality, innovation, productivity, and institutions. He uses the most basic concept to outline what we know, what we do not know, and what we ought to know about the subject on a comprehensive and understandable manner. Such an approach should enable even noneconomists to become involved in the "growth mystery" without resorting to complex mathematical formulations...Overall, the book is well written, and the author is indeed highly knowledgeable on the issue at hand and his views are quite insightful and helpful in our understanding of economic growth, along with providing encouragement to developing countries. (Masiiwa Rusare Developing Economies)

The Mystery of Economic Growth is the book to read if you want to learn about what we know about "economic growth" and what the remaining mysteries are. The book deserves to be read by a wide range of economists, policy makers and researchers who are interested in this subject. It is a must reading for undergraduate and graduate students who would like to do research in the field of economic growth and international development...It is short, relatively non-technical, but still provides an extensive coverage of the topic. Helpman tells an exciting story focusing on the most important research in the last 20 years. (Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan Journal of International Economics 2006-06-01)

This is an engaging book and it should be read by anyone interested in bridging the divide between economics and social policy...Helpman provides an interesting account of the most important contemporary theories of economic growth, and his book will be a useful resource for those who would like to know more on the subject. (Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 2005-06-01)

Those interested in the topic of growth economics will find this discussion both fascinating and provocative. (Michael Wald Monthly Labor Review 2005-04-01)

Helpman is himself a master of the art of economics and his master's hand is evident on each page. In making his point, he takes the reader on a fast, yet detailed tour of some of the most important writing on economic growth in the last twenty years. He reviews the emergence of endogenous growth theory, the interaction of international trade and economic growth, the relationship between inequality and growth, and the role of the institutions that provide the fundamental groundwork for economic growth. (George K. Davis EH.Net 2005-04-01)

A fine survey of what is known and unknown in economics, and how to improve an understanding of global economic influences. Here the story of growth economics is organized around themes of technological and institutional influencers, total productivity, and interdependent growth rates of different countries. (James A Cox and Diane C. Donovan Bookwatch 2005-04-01)

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