Relative economic backwardness and catching up: lessons from history, implications for development thinking

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


This chapter expands on three main topics. First, it is argued that the economic historical perspective may contribute to our understanding of present day development processes. Instead of advocating a one-size-fits-all model, an analytical framework is offered based on common traits from diverse examples. Second, the importance of agricultural change on the road towards sustained economic growth is discussed and argued that it is a vital part of the development process. In the final section of the chapter the question is put whether in some countries perhaps the relative backwardness is too great an obstacle to permit catching up. The conclusion is that it is not too late but that the possibilities for countries today to fully take advantage of being late hinges on their ability to couple economic growth with structural transformation.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History


  • catching up, economic history, development economics, structural transformation, Asia, Africa, Latin-America, social capabilities, diversity in development
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiverse Development Paths and Structural Transformation in the Escape from Poverty
EditorsMartin Andersson, Tobias Axelsson
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198737407
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch