Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress
The Asian and Russian financial crises have helped fuel a growing debate over the impact of culture on economic performance. In this useful guide to the controversy, many authors hark back to Max Weber's essay on the Protestant work ethic and the origins of capitalism in Europe, which showed how Calvinism unintentionally stimulated productive economic activity. Building on this view, David Landes argues that culture does make a difference -- but in ways more complex than is usually acknowledged. Jeffrey Sachs is more skeptical, contending that modern economic growth is directly tied to capitalist institutions and conducive geography but only remotely linked to religious beliefs. Meanwhile, Dwight Perkins examines the impact of culture in business transactions: whereas the West relies on the rule of law backed up by a judiciary, Asia has tended to rely on personal, often family-based, relationships. For Perkins, any institutional practice can work if economic development takes off -- but rule-based systems will increasingly prove superior. In the wrong hands, cultural arguments can be ideological weapons. But in exposing the tangle of causality and processes that link culture and economics, these essays put the debate on a constructive path. -- from http://www.foreignaffairs.com (Sep. 26, 2014).
DAVID LANDESCulture Makes Almost All the Difference
Microeconomics of Prosperity
JEFFREY SACHSNotes on a New Sociology of Economic
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