Why Australia Prospered: The Shifting Sources of Economic Growth

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, Nov 11, 2012 - Business & Economics - 312 pages

This book is the first comprehensive account of how Australia attained the world's highest living standards within a few decades of European settlement, and how the nation has sustained an enviable level of income to the present. Why Australia Prospered is a fascinating historical examination of how Australia cultivated and sustained economic growth and success. Beginning with the Aboriginal economy at the end of the eighteenth century, Ian McLean argues that Australia's remarkable prosperity across nearly two centuries was reached and maintained by several shifting factors. These included imperial policies, favorable demographic characteristics, natural resource abundance, institutional adaptability and innovation, and growth-enhancing policy responses to major economic shocks, such as war, depression, and resource discoveries.


Natural resource abundance in Australia played a prominent role in some periods and faded during others, but overall, and contrary to the conventional view of economists, it was a blessing rather than a curse. McLean shows that Australia's location was not a hindrance when the international economy was centered in the North Atlantic, and became a positive influence following Asia's modernization. Participation in the world trading system, when it flourished, brought significant benefits, and during the interwar period when it did not, Australia's protection of domestic manufacturing did not significantly stall growth. McLean also considers how the country's notorious origins as a convict settlement positively influenced early productivity levels, and how British imperial policies enhanced prosperity during the colonial period. He looks at Australia's recent resource-based prosperity in historical perspective, and reveals striking elements of continuity that have underpinned the evolution of the country's economy since the nineteenth century.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Weaving Analysis and Narrative
1
CHAPTER 2 What Is to Be Explained and How
11
An Economy Built from Scratch?
37
CHAPTER 4 Squatting Colonial Autocracy and Imperial Policies
57
CHAPTER 5 Becoming Very Rich
80
CHAPTER 6 Depression Drought and Federation
113
CHAPTER 7 A Succession of Negative Shocks
144
CHAPTER 8 The Pacific War and the Second Golden Age
176
CHAPTER 9 Shocks Policy Shifts and Another Long Boom
210
CHAPTER 10 The Shifting Bases of Prosperity
246
Appendix Note on Statistics and Sources
257
References
259
Index
277
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

Ian W. McLean is a visiting research fellow in economics at the University of Adelaide, where he taught for many years.

Bibliographic information