2016 Education and Research Other

Path dependent possibilities of transformation: Agricultural change and economic development in North and South Vietnam

Montserrat López Jerez

Several issues remain to be settled before conclusions can be drawn about how colonial institutions interact with long-term development dynamics.What does it mean and how can it be measured? How does it influence the development process over time? To what extent is it reasonable to infer a causal link to current economic performance from the set-up of institutions often established centuries ago? Finally, and most importantly for the dissertation, how do extractive institutions relate to factor endowments (mainly man to land ratios)?

The report was presented during the seminar Drivers for development: advocacy, diversification, donations and endowments.

Main findings

  • The South cannot be understood as a story of path dependence in a strict sense.
  • History matters in more ways than path dependence; it matters in shaping the sequences of causally related events and processes, where institutional change is possible. Then, history matters not because it is following a deterministic path, but because there could be change. But understanding change, in the past or present, cannot be achieved without taking into consideration the choices available, conditions, actors, and the foregone opportunities.

Montserrat López Jerez is a researcher at the Department of Economic History, Lund University and at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University. She defended her dissertation Deltas Apart – Factor Endowments, Colonial Extraction and Pathways of Agricultural Development in Vietnam at Lund University in December 2014.