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Books in brief

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
January 1994
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Mitchell A. Seligson and John T. Passé-Smith (editors)

Development and Underdevelopment

Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, CO, USA, 1993, xv + 456 pp., $22.

Two vast and growing gaps in wealth—international and domestic—separate the world’s rich and poor populations. The first is between industrial and developing countries; the second is between tiny minorities of the affluent and vast majorities of the poor in the developing countries themselves.

Starting from Simon Kuznets’s seminal essay, this comprehensive anthology of classic and contemporary papers traces the thinking that has evolved on the subject of these international and domestic gaps between the rich and the poor. The views represented range from the so-called classicists, who suggest that the gaps will narrow once the process of industrialization has matured or anti-industrial cultural values are replaced by the necessary “industrial” values, to proponents of the view that the international system itself perpetuates the gaps and that only a major restructuring of the system will narrow them. Other perspectives focus on the behavior, responsibility, and political orientation of the state. Have domestic policy actions, such as rent-seeking behavior and urban bias, perpetuated the gaps? Is there a connection between democracy, on the one hand, and growth and inequality on the other?

The editors concede that definitive answers remain elusive. Their hope is that continued airing of the debate and the development of more sophisticated and precise research tools will lead the way to productive answers and constructive policy advice.

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