Economics and World History: Myths and Paradoxes
by Paul Bairoch
Paul Bairoch deflates twenty commonly held myths about economic history. Among these myths are that free trade and population growth have ... Show synopsis Paul Bairoch deflates twenty commonly held myths about economic history. Among these myths are that free trade and population growth have historically led to periods of economic growth, and that colonial powers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries became rich through the exploitation of the Third World. Bairoch shows that these beliefs are based on insufficient knowledge and wrong interpretations of the history of economies of the United States, Europe, and the Third World, and he re-examines the facts to set the record straight. Bairoch argues that until the early 1960s, the history of international trade of the developed countries was almost entirely one of protectionism rather than a "Golden Era" of free trade, and he reveals that, in fact, past periods of economic growth in the Western World correlated strongly with protectionist policy. He also demonstrates that developed countries did not exploit the Third World for raw materials during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as some economists and many politicians have held. Among the many other myths that Bairoch debunks are beliefs about whether colonization triggered the Industrial Revolution, the effects of the economic development of the West on the Third World, and beliefs about the 1929 crash and the Great Depression. Bairoch's lucid prose makes the book equally accessible to economists of every stripe, as well as to historians, political scientists, and other social scientists.