Le protectionnisme contre le développement

CAMBRIDGE – Voici l'un des plus grands mystères de l'économie mondiale : comment se fait-il que pendant 200 ans la croissance des pays riches a été plus rapide que celle des pays pauvres ? L'économiste américain Lant Pritchett qualifie ce phénomène de Grande divergence (Divergence, Big Time). En 1776, quand Adam Smith a écrit La richesse des nations, le revenu par habitant du pays le plus riche du monde à moment-là, probablement la Hollande, était quatre fois supérieur à celui des pays les plus pauvres. Deux siècles plus tard, la Hollande était 40 fois plus riche que la Chine, 24 fois plus riche que l'Inde et 10 fois plus que la Thaïlande.

Mais au cours des trois dernières décennies, la tendance s'est inversée. Aujourd'hui la Hollande est seulement 11 fois plus riche que l'Inde et à peine 4 fois plus riche que la Chine et la Thaïlande. Constatant ce renversement, Michael Spence, économiste titulaire du prix Nobel affirme que le monde est sur la voie de la prochaine convergence.

Pourtant il y a des contre-exemples. Entre 1980 et 2012, les rapports des richesses entre la Hollande d'une part et le Nicaragua, la Côte d'Ivoire et le Kenya d'autre part ont fait un bond respectivement de 5,8 à 10,5 ; de 7,7 à 21,1 et de 15 à 24,4.

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