Puzzling Questions Of Economic Growth

  • Leszek Balcerowicz
  • Andrzej Rzońca


Observation of economic reality reveals interesting facts and sparks several questions.  For example: why did Australia split economically from New Zealand in spite of the fact that the latter is often considered as a paragon of free-market economic reforms?  Why did Austria, which maintains state-controlled enterprises, nearly catch Switzerland, which still had at the beginning of the 1970s more than fifty percent higher per capita income?  What is the source of difference in economic growth between Estonia and Slovenia?  Which of the two attained bigger success in systemic transformation?  Why is Mexico so much poorer than Spain, even though in 1960 it was more affluent?  Why has Venezuela, which in 1950 enjoyed a per capita income higher than that of Norway’s––who currently exports significant amounts of petroleum––became even poorer than Chile?  How did it happen then that Venezuelan currency, which until the 1970s was among the most stable in the world, ceased to be respected by Venezuelans themselves?  Why did Chile, who during the 1970s and 1980s was strained by harsh crises, surpass other Latin American countries in terms of per capita income?  Why did Costa Rica remain behind Puerto Rico even though during the 1970s the latter fell from the 10 fastest growing economies in the world to among the slowest?  In what respect does Puerto Rico resemble former East Germany?  Why did “communist” China surpass “capitalist” India?  Why, in spite of this Chinese economic miracle, is there such disparity in per capita income of mainland China in relation to Taiwan?  How did the disparity in income increase from two-fold in 1950 to six-fold in recent years?  Why did Pakistan grow so much slower than Indonesia, although in the later country there have been systematic returns to extensive state intervention, and during 1997 and 1998 it experienced one of the most severe crises in the economic history of the world?  Why does the Dominican Republic, which resides on the same island as Haiti, attract significantly more tourists than Haiti?

Author Biographies

Leszek Balcerowicz
Leszek Balcerowicz is the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance respected for implementing the Polish economic transformation program. His reforms led to a successful introduction of a market economy, in the 1990s.  Between 2001 and 2007 he was the chairman of the central bank of Poland. During this period inflation had been reduced from above 10% a year to about 2%. He is a Chairman of the Board of Bruegel; Head of Institute for Comparative Studies at the Warsaw School of Economics. Balcerowicz is a recipient of twenty honorary doctorates, a member of the Group of Thirty, and a Board member of the Peterson Institute.
Andrzej Rzońca
Andrzej Rzonca is the author of publications on economic growth and fiscal and monetary policy. In 2009 he was elected a member of the Monetary Council of the Poland’s Central Bank.