Shanghai skyline at night

Les enjeux institutionnels de la Chine

HONG KONG – Le mois dernier, l’économiste Douglass North, lauréat du prix Nobel pour avoir appliqué la théorie économique aux phénomènes historiques et fait avancer les connaissances sur les changements institutionnels et sociaux, est mort chez lui au Michigan. Mais ses idées lui survivent, particulièrement en Chine. Même si les études de North ne portaient pas explicitement sur les développements institutionnels de la Chine, son cadre théorique s’avère très précieux pour les dirigeants du pays alors qu’ils négocient le prochain virage de l’évolution institutionnelle.

Lors de son discours de réception du prix Nobel en 1993, North a cité trois enseignements que les responsables politiques devraient tirer de ses analyses. Primo, ce qui détermine un résultat économique est le mélange de « règles officielles, normes officieuses et modalités d’application ». Secundo, les politiques publiques ont des incidences majeures sur l’efficacité économique, car elles « définissent et appliquent les règles économiques ». Et, finalement, la clé de la croissance à long terme réside dans l’efficience adaptative (comment les règles évoluent), et non l’efficience de répartition (l’état actuel des règles les plus efficaces).

Ces leçons se reflètent dans l’analyse de North du développement économique et institutionnel de l’Europe de l’Ouest dans laquelle il attribue la révolution industrielle à deux grands facteurs : des systèmes de valeur différents et une concurrence intense interne et entre nations souveraines en ascendance. Plus particulièrement, les Anglais et les Hollandais ont créé des unités politiques et économiques diverses qui ont fait évoluer les institutions en favorisant la spécialisation et la répartition des tâches. Ces institutions ont généré de plus grandes retombées économiques et politiques par le truchement de frais de transaction moins élevés, des droits de propriété clairement définis et exécutoires et des règles et normes communes.

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