What became the post-War era’s “less developed countries” (LDCs) varied enormously in their pre- modern or pre-industrial economic conditions.  We hypothesize that if these countries are arrayed on a continuum of pre-industrial development such as that of the demographer Ester Boserup, countries positioned closer to the “modern” end of that continuum will be found to have achieved more rapid post-War growth, due to more favorable pre-conditions.  A cross-country data analysis supports this hypothesis.  This suggests to us the importance of societies’ stocks of human capital, conceived of more broadly than is measurable on the basis of formal education only.

Keywords: Economic growth, development, evolution, pre-modern development, anthropology, Africa, Asia, Boserup.

JEL numbers: O10 (Economic Development, General), O57 (Comparative Studies of Countries), O29 (Development Planning and Policy, Other).


Return to Working Papers