Monday, January 28, 2019

Isabella Weber — What drives specialisation? A century of global export patterns

Globalisation has coincided with specialisation and wealth accumulation on unprecedented scales. By bringing together distant markets, globalisation has created an economy that resembles one big multi-division and multi-national company. This is just like Adam Smith’s concept of specialisation where the division of labour is at once the cause and the extent of the size of the market.
Patterns of production are therefore distributed unequally across countries and regions of the world. Some are predominantly the innovators and managers, some are the workshop of the world, and others simply provide the needed raw materials. This positioning in the global division of labour influences the extent to which countries participate in the creation of wealth from globalisation.
Our new research project funded by Rebuilding Macroeconomics looks at the question of what drives specialisation. Rather than rely on circular arguments around revealed comparative advantage, we reconceptualise export specialisation as a historical process drawing on commodity histories and histories of colonial economic governance. We revisit revealed comparative advantage as a descriptive measure to analyse the evolution of export patterns over time....
Sounds like mercantilism and hysteresis? Is the liberal world order a Trojan horse for neo-imperialism?

Political Economy Research Center
What drives specialisation? A century of global export patterns
Isabella Weber

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