是什麼讓一個國家富強?

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是什麼讓一個國家富強

What Makes a Nation Rich?


◎Daron Acemoglu (MIT經濟學系教授)

翻譯/周慨一Kay Zhou

我們是富有的發達國家,而非洲、南亞、南美、以至這世界大多數地區,有許許多多個貧瘠落後的索馬里、玻利維亞和孟加拉。儘管這個星球一向可以用富裕與貧困、健康與疾病、食物與饑荒來劃分格局,當今國與國之間不平等的程度也堪稱史無前例:美國公民的平均收入超過瓜地馬拉公民的十倍,北朝鮮公民的二十倍,馬里、埃塞俄比亞、剛果、塞拉里昂的四十倍。"為什麼國與國之間是不平等的?"社會學家們無果地爭論了幾個世紀。然而他們應該去求索的卻是另一個問題——"國與國是怎樣不平等的?"不平等不是預定的,國家不是嬰兒,他們並非生來富有或者貧窮,而是被政府領導成現在的樣子的。 


在十八世紀中葉,法國政治哲學家孟德斯鳩曾這樣簡單地解釋國與國的貧富不均:因為熱帶地區的人類生來懶散,(所以他們比其他地區的人們貧窮)。接著,更多不靠譜的揣測跟了上來:因為馬克思韋伯的新教倫理是經濟發展的真正動力?因為最富有的國家都曾是英國的屬地?因為最富有的國家就是歐裔後人最多的國家?這些解釋都太膚淺,適用於一些實際情況,卻又被另一些實際情況徹底推翻。

今時的理論也犯著過去的錯誤。哥倫比亞大學地球研究中心的經濟學家傑佛瑞薩克斯( Jeffrey Sachs),把國家貧富歸因於地理和氣候。他認為,在最貧困的熱帶地區,土地營養貧瘠,使農業發展面臨困境,而熱帶氣候又助長了疾病的傳播,尤其是瘧疾。如果我們能解決這些問題,教授熱帶居民更先進的農耕技術,消滅瘧疾,或者至少為他們配給能夠對抗瘧疾的青蒿素,我們就可以消除貧困。如果能讓這些居民遷離他們不適宜居住的故土,那就更好了。

著名生態學家兼暢銷作家傑瑞德戴夢德(Jared Diamond)的觀點與上述理論形非神似。他相信國與國的不平等根源於動植物種類的分佈和技術的發展水準。最先學會種莊稼的文化最先學會使用犁,繼而最先學會其他技術,最先啟動經濟發展的發動機。解決國與國的不平等就是解決技術上的不平等,用網線和手機武裝那些發展中國家就夠了。

雖然傑佛瑞薩克斯和傑瑞德戴夢德從一些方面洞見了貧窮的根源,但他們的理論和孟德斯鳩時代的假說一樣,忽視了人們致富的動力。人們需要動力,人們需要知道,他們努力工作,就可以創造財富、積累財富,就可以去投資,變得更富有。而決定這些動力的,是人們所處的制度-提供爭取與創造財富的機會的一系列法規、安檢和政府管理系統。誰有爭取和創造的動力而誰又沒有,取決於制度。調整制度,給人們致富的動力,讓他們願意勤勞致富。而調整制度,就是完善法規、安檢和政府管理系統。

我們是怎樣認定制度是決定國家貧富的核心要素的呢?答案從諾加利斯,一個被墨西哥與美國的邊境圍籬一分為二的城市開始。圍籬兩邊沒什麼地理差異,氣候一樣,風向一樣,土壤也一樣。流行於圍籬這邊的疾病也流行於圍籬的另一邊,種族、文化、語言也是一樣一樣的。然而,圍籬兩邊的經濟發展卻有著天壤之別。美國亞利桑那州桑塔庫茲縣的那一邊,一個中等家庭的年收入是三萬美元,大部分青少年都就讀于公立高中,大部分成年人都至少高中畢業。幾英尺外,圍籬的另一邊,一個中等家庭的年收入是一萬美元,少有居民讀過高中,更不要說大學。桑塔庫茲縣的居民相對更健康。他們享有便利的交通、電力、電話、汙水處理系統和公共衛生系統,65歲以上的老人有醫療保障。這些條件在圍籬的另一邊都沒有,取而代之的是廢舊的道路,很高的新生兒死亡率,昂貴的電費電話費,還有雜亂無章的市場。圍籬兩邊致關緊要的區別在於,桑塔庫茲縣的居民享受著法律規章的保護和政府的服務,在不擔憂生命財產受到威脅的情況下進行著日常工作生活。而圍籬另一邊的居民生活在包庇犯罪、賄賂和黑社會的制度之下。

諾加利斯也許是最明顯的例證,但絕不是唯一的例證。新加坡,曾經赤貧的熱帶島嶼,完善制度鼓勵交易,一度成為亞洲最富有的國家。中國,也是在鄧小平改革工農業發展政策以後才脫離了幾十年的經濟停滯和物質匱乏。而波斯瓦納能在過去的四十年中綻放於凋零的非洲大地上,要感謝它強大的部落制度機構和先代領導人高瞻遠矚的發展政策。

再看看那些失敗的案例。我們可以從塞拉里昂開始,那個制度不完善的地方因鑽礦觸發了至今仍未平息的內戰、衝突和腐敗。北朝鮮,地理、血統和文化都與韓國如同照鏡子那麼像,經濟卻比韓國落後十倍。埃及,那片在奧斯曼帝國和歐洲殖民者的統治下停滯不前的古文明發源地,被後來那個禁止一切經濟活動和市場行為的獨立政府搞得更加窘困。總之,制度決定不平等論可以用於解釋世界絕大部分地區的不平等格局。

如果我們知道國家為什麼貧困,下一個問題就是我們應該如何幫助貧困國家。從外部強加政府去改變制度的效果是有限的,就像美國在阿富汗和伊拉克的實驗所證明的那樣。但我們也並非什麼忙都幫不上,有時候我們能做的事情很多。即使是世界上最受壓迫的民眾,一旦得到機會,也會挺身反抗暴君政府、推翻落後制度,就像正發生在伊朗的革命以及烏克蘭橙色革命那樣。

美國的對外政策應當通過外貿禁運和民主聲援去支持受壓迫的民眾,而不是在這些運動中扮演被動的角色。那段為了美國的短期利益支持獨裁暴政的過去,比如70年代在巴基斯坦含蓄地支持穆罕默德賈烏汗,又比如從1965年到1997年在剛果與莫布圖盜賊政府進行非法交易,必須一去不復返。長遠地看,充斥著貧民、營養不良的饑餓兒童和焦躁不安的叛逆少年的國家是最容易滋生恐怖主義的土壤。我們應當敦促巴基斯坦、格魯吉亞、沙烏地阿拉伯、尼日利亞以及其他一些非洲國家完善制度,更加開放、更加民主,不管他們是不是美國在反恐戰爭中的短期盟友。從微觀的角度來看,我們可以向外國民眾提供先進的科學技術,比如互聯網、編密技術以及手機平臺等等,幫助他們回避那些畏懼資訊力量的政府(如中國及伊朗)所設置的防火牆和審查制度。

毫無疑問,想要消除存在了幾千年並且愈演愈烈的不平等,並非易事。但通過瞭解政府機構的失策怎樣導致貧困,我們就有了戰勝不平等的機會。 

 

What Makes a Nation Rich?

One Economist's Big Answer

Say you're a world leader and you want your country's economy to prosper. According to this Clark Medal winner from MIT, there's a simple solution: start with free elections.

By Daron Acemoglu

We are the rich, the haves, the developed. And most of the rest — in Africa, South Asia, and South America, the Somalias and Bolivias and Bangladeshes of the world — are the nots. It's always been this way, a globe divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine, though the extent of inequality across nations today is unprecedented: The average citizen of the United States is ten times as prosperous as the average Guatemalan, more than twenty times as prosperous as the average North Korean, and more than forty times as prosperous as those living in Mali, Ethiopia, Congo, or Sierra Leone.

The question social scientists have unsuccessfully wrestled with for centuries is, Why? But the question they should have been asking is, How? Because inequality is not predetermined. Nations are not like children — they are not born rich or poor. Their governments make them that way.

You can chart the search for a theory of inequality to the French political philosopher Montesquieu, who in the mid-eighteenth century came up with a very simple explanation: People in hot places are inherently lazy. Other no less sweeping explanations soon followed: Could it be that Max Weber's Protestant work ethic is the true driver of economic success? Or perhaps the richest countries are those that were former British colonies? Or maybe it's as simple as tracing which nations have the largest populations of European descent? The problem with all of these theories is that while they superficially fit some specific cases, others radically disprove them.

It's the same with the theories put forth today. Economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, attributes the relative success of nations to geography and weather: In the poorest parts of the world, he argues, nutrient-starved tropical soil makes agriculture a challenge, and tropical climates foment disease, particularly malaria. Perhaps if we were to fix these problems, teach the citizens of these nations better farming techniques, eliminate malaria, or at the very least equip them with artemisinin to fight this deadly disease, we could eliminate poverty. Or better yet, perhaps we just move these people and abandon their inhospitable land altogether.

Jared Diamond, the famous ecologist and best-selling author, has a different theory: The origin of world inequality stems from the historical endowment of plant and animal species and the advancement of technology. In Diamond's telling, the cultures that first learned to plant crops were the first to learn how to use a plow, and thus were first to adopt other technologies, the engine of every successful economy. Perhaps then the solution to world inequality rests in technology — wiring the developing world with Internet and cell phones.

And yet while Sachs and Diamond offer good insight into certain aspects of poverty, they share something in common with Montesquieu and others who followed: They ignore incentives. People need incentives to invest and prosper; they need to know that if they work hard, they can make money and actually keep that money. And the key to ensuring those incentives is sound institutions — the rule of law and security and a governing system that offers opportunities to achieve and innovate. That's what determines the haves from the have-nots — not geography or weather or technology or disease or ethnicity.

Put simply: Fix incentives and you will fix poverty. And if you wish to fix institutions, you have to fix governments.

How do we know that institutions are so central to the wealth and poverty of nations? Start in Nogales, a city cut in half by the Mexican-American border fence. There is no difference in geography between the two halves of Nogales. The weather is the same. The winds are the same, as are the soils. The types of diseases prevalent in the area given its geography and climate are the same, as is the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic background of the residents. By logic, both sides of the city should be identical economically.

And yet they are far from the same.

On one side of the border fence, in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, the median household income is $30,000. A few feet away, it's $10,000. On one side, most of the teenagers are in public high school, and the majority of the adults are high school graduates. On the other side, few of the residents have gone to high school, let alone college. Those in Arizona enjoy relatively good health and Medicare for those over sixty-five, not to mention an efficient road network, electricity, telephone service, and a dependable sewage and public-health system. None of those things are a given across the border. There, the roads are bad, the infant-mortality rate high, electricity and phone service expensive and spotty.

The key difference is that those on the north side of the border enjoy law and order and dependable government services — they can go about their daily activities and jobs without fear for their life or safety or property rights. On the other side, the inhabitants have institutions that perpetuate crime, graft, and insecurity.

Nogales may be the most obvious example, but it's far from the only one. Take Singapore, a once-impoverished tropical island that became the richest nation in Asia after British colonialists enshrined property rights and encouraged trade. Or China, where decades of stagnation and famine were reversed only after Deng Xiaoping began introducing private-property rights in agriculture, and later in industry. Or Botswana, whose economy has flourished over the past forty years while the rest of Africa has withered, thanks to strong tribal institutions and farsighted nation building by its early elected leaders.

Now look at the economic and political failures. You can begin in Sierra Leone, where a lack of functioning institutions and an overabundance of diamonds have fueled decades of civil war and strife and corruption that continue unchecked today. Or take communist North Korea, a geographical, ethnic, and cultural mirror of its capitalist neighbor to the south, yet ten times poorer. Or Egypt, cradle of one of the world's great civilizations yet stagnant economically ever since its colonization by the Ottomans and then the Europeans, only made worse by its post-independence governments, which have restricted all economic activities and markets. In fact, the theory can be used to shed light on the patterns of inequality for much of the world.

If we know why nations are poor, the resulting question is what can we do to help them. Our ability to impose institutions from the outside is limited, as the recent U. S. experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate. But we are not helpless, and in many instances, there is a lot to be done. Even the most repressed citizens of the world will stand up to tyrants when given the opportunity. We saw this recently in Iran and a few years ago in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution.

The U. S. must not take a passive role in encouraging these types of movements. Our foreign policy should encourage them by punishing repressive regimes through trade embargoes and diplomacy. The days of supporting dictators because they bolster America's short-term foreign-policy goals, like our implicit support of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in Pakistan starting in the 1970s, and our illicit deals with Mobutu's kleptocratic regime in the Congo from 1965 to 1997, must end. Because the long-term consequences — entire nations of impoverished citizens, malnourished and hungry children, restive, discontented youngsters ripe to be drawn toward terrorism — are too costly. Today that means pushing countries such as Pakistan, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and countless others in Africa toward greater transparency, more openness, and greater democracy, regardless of whether they are our short-term allies in the war on terror.

At the microlevel, we can help foreign citizens by educating them and arming them with the modern tools of activism, most notably the Internet, and perhaps even encryption technology and cell-phone platforms that can evade firewalls and censorship put in place by repressive governments, such as those in China or Iran, that fear the power of information.

There's no doubt that erasing global inequality, which has been with us for millennia and has expanded to unprecedented levels over the past century and a half, won't be easy. But by accepting the role of failed governments and institutions in causing poverty, we have a fighting chance of reversing it.

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/best-and-brightest-2009/world-poverty-ma... 

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