Re: What drives economic development?

David Dollar has served as the World Bank's China Director and is currently the U.S. Treasury Department's Economic and Financial Emissary to China.

Before this assignment, Mr. Dollar worked as Director for the development research department of the World Bank, overseeing the Bank’s research on the investment climate and growth.  He co-authored the recent World Bank reports Globalization, Growth, and Poverty and Assessing Aid.  His earlier work focused on aid and growth, and the determinants of the success and failure of reform programs supported by structural adjustment lending.  He has been a key World Bank spokesperson on investment climate, globalization, and the effectiveness of aid. 

He has a PhD in economics from New York University and a B.A. in Chinese history and language from Dartmouth College.

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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What drives economic development?

Transcript:I think the off lot of human history is driven by technological change. And technological change is an outcome. And I think the two key underpinnings are first property rights, including intellectual property rights. So if you create an idea, can you patent it and benefit from it? And more generally can you invest and open a factory, or store, or whatever, and benefit from your idea? So property rights are critical. And then I’m a big believer that international trade stimulates technological innovation. I think that people get new ideas by interacting with different economies and different cultures. And they get the opportunity to . . . If they have a good idea or good product, international trade gives them an opportunity to benefit from a very large market. So I think a lot of economic history can be understood in this interplay between property rights and international trade. And the countries that are currently the richest and most developed, like the United States and the United Kingdom, are countries that developed well defined property rights hundreds of years ago, and have generally been believers in free trade going back hundreds of years. So they’ve put this system in place over a long period of time, and have generated tremendous wealth and tremendous human progress. And now we see big developing countries like China, which had gone down a different road for a while, turning and seeing that China was falling further and further behind, and now they very much switched, and they’re trying to develop the institutions of property rights. And they’ve definitely opened up to international trade and international investment in a big way, and they’re getting tremendous results from that. And then unfortunately you look around the world, and I see quite a few developing countries that still that have weak property rights and are largely closed to the world market, and these are countries that . . . They’re the one’s you read about in the press because there’s civil wars going on. Or they’re stagnating and there’s a lot of crime developing, or different types of social problems. So I think we’re seeing the world split to some extent, not between the rich and the poor curiously. Because countries like India and China are definitely not rich, but they have gotten onto this bandwagon of developing property rights, and integrating with the global market. And then there are other developing societies that have just not gotten on to that bandwagon, and they’re falling further and further behind.


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