“A Sustainable Century? Genuine Savings in developing and developed countries, 1900-2000”


This paper traces the long-run development of Genuine Savings (GS) using a panel of eleven countries during the twentieth century. This panel covers a number of developed countries (Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, France, the US, and Australia) as well as a set of resource-abundant countries in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico). These countries represent approximately 50 percent of the world’s output in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1950, and include large economies and small open economies, and resource-rich and resource-scarce countries, thus allowing us to compare their historical experiences. Components of GS considered include physical and human capital as well as resource extraction and pollution damages. Generally, we find evidence of positive GS over the course of the twentieth century, although the twoWorldWars and the Great Depression left considerable marks. Also, we found striking differences between Latin American and developed countries when Total Factor Productivity (TFP) is included; this could be a signal of natural resource curse or technological gaps unnoticed in previous works.

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