Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Freedom and Prosperity in Vietnam

The prosperity of a country is, admittedly, a complex issue. What are the causes? I'm inclined to believe that free markets, honest business practices and political freedom have more impact than natural resources. The freedom accorded to women seems to have a particularly large impact. And, in fact, some people have speculated that natural resources may work against you. So why is Vietnam poor?

At any rate, there is a long running discussion about Vietnam and its prospects over on FreeFrankWarner. I am not an expert on Vietnam. I try not to think about it at all. Nevertheless, I can't resist posting rebuttals to one individual, now living in the West, who thinks that the US is bad, Vietnam is good and Ho Chi Minh was the George Washington of his people.

Here's my latest effort:

The following data comes from the Wikipedia lists of countries series, first by GDP, second by degree of political freedom.

Here is a combined list of the Central and Eastern European countries or those formerly associated with the Soviet Union. Next to each country is its average national income per person as it appears on Wikipedia (GDP using PPP adjustment). To the left is an indication of the current status of the country, where F indicates Free, P indicates Partly and N indicates Not. Please note that 11 of the first 12 are functioning multi-party democracies. 12 of 12 if you insist on Russia.

Status / Country / GDP per capita

F Slovenia 21911
F Czech Republic 18375
F Hungary 17405
F Estonia 16414
F Slovakia 16041
F Lithuania 14158
F Poland 12994
F Latvia 12622
F Croatia 12158
NF Russia 11041
F Bulgaria 9223
F Romania 8785
NF Kazakhstan 8318
NF Turkmenistan 8098
NF Belarus 7711
F Ukraine 7156
PF Bosnia and Herzegovina 6035
F Serbia and Montenegro 5348
PF Albania 4764
NF Azerbaijan 4601
PF Armenia 4270
PF Moldova 2374
PF Kyrgyzstan 2088
NF Uzbekistan 1920
NF Tajikistan 1388
PF Georgia (country) ?
PF Macedonia ?

Is this sufficient reason to infer that democracy and freedom have something to do with prosperity?

6/21/2006 11:43 PM

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6 Comments:

At Thursday, June 22, 2006 9:49:00 AM, Blogger mal said...

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At Thursday, June 22, 2006 9:50:00 AM, Blogger mal said...

certainly a strong correlation if not a causal argument

 
At Thursday, June 22, 2006 10:46:00 AM, Blogger anchovy said...

I read an article in Technology Review magazine, of all places, a while back that featured a point-counterpoint for the causes of national prosperity. If I remember correctly, one fo the authors took the natural resources position and the other took the position that economic freedom and strong property rights were determinative. That last--strong property rights--really caught my attention because, as you know, the romantic appeal of distributive-type economic systems that often predominate you non-"F" nations is that it's somehow unfair for individuals to have exclussive rights to resources. It's one of the profound ironies of capitalism that, perhaps, has more to do with our own prosperity than anything else.

Aside: makes me cringe at court decisions like Kelo and money-grabs like the thankfully-defeated CA proposition to tax "the rich" to provide preschool for the poor.

 
At Thursday, June 22, 2006 11:23:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Anchovy,

This is something I've been thinking about recently, and plan to do a post starting with the Tragedy of the Commons. I've always had an attraction to libertarian thinking, but I see too many problems out there to be solved by individuals. The selfishness of people can be helpful in the right context, but it can also be very, very harmful. The government has to be responsive to people's rights, but it also has to have the power to do the necessary things. I believe it is failing today on both scores, which is why we need to redesign it. I hope I'll be able to convince you.

 
At Thursday, June 22, 2006 9:57:00 PM, Blogger anchovy said...

If you search for things like "tragedy of the anti-commons" and "semiconductor patents" and "patents" generally you'll get plenty of stuff for the other side. Patents are my specialty and I've seen how locking up resources is the other side of the proverbial double edged sword. Think drug patents, for example.

Oh, I wouldn't call myself a libertarian per se. I look forward to reading The Commons post.

I've always thought basic economics ought to be a high school graduation requirement. About that, at least, I'm adamant!

 
At Wednesday, June 28, 2006 10:35:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

anchovy,

I'm reading some of the stuff you suggested. "Anti-commons" in particular seem to be making a lot of my arguments for me.

 

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