Paul Lachine

Développement, dans le mauvais sens

CAMBRIDGE – Il n’est pas besoin de passer beaucoup de temps dans les pays en voie de développement pour se rendre compte à quel point leur économie est un méli-mélo, combinant productivité et improductivité, Premier et Tiers Monde. Dans les parties modernes, plus productives, de l’économie, la productivité (bien que typiquement encore basse) est bien plus proche de celle des pays avancés.

En fait, ce « dualisme » est un des plus vieux et des plus fondamentaux concepts en développement économique. Il fut clairement exposé pour la première fois dans les années 1950 par l’économiste hollandais J.H. Boeke, inspiré par ses expériences en Indonésie. Boeke croyait en une nette séparation entre le style d’organisation économique moderne, capitaliste, qui prévalait en Occident et le mode traditionnel, précapitaliste, qui prédominait dans les régions qui était alors appelées « sous-développées ». Bien que des pratiques industrielles modernes avaient pénétré dans certaines sociétés sous-développées, il estimait improbable qu’elles puissent véritablement percer et transformer ces sociétés de manière fondamentale.

Lorsque les économistes contemporains pensent au dualisme économique, ils pensent d’abord et avant tout au lauréat du Prix Nobel Sir W. Arthur Lewis. Lewis renversa l’idée de Boeke, expliquant que la migration des travailleurs de l’agriculture traditionnelle vers les activités industrielles modernes représente le moteur du développement économique. Pour Lewis, c’est donc la coexistence des secteurs traditionnel et moderne qui permet le développement.

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