International Economic History Congress starts in Helsinki
Nobelist: “China’s frenzied growth will continue at least for a generation”
Every four years the International Economic History Association (IEHA), established in 1960, holds an International Economic History Congress. The fourteenth such congress, currently taking place in Helsinki, Finland, has attracted 1,400 historians from 70 different countries. This is the largest history-related event ever organised in Finland.
The opening speech of the congress was delivered in the University of Helsinki Assembly Hall by the President of the Republic, Tarja Halonen. She emphasised the importance of economic history in understanding the current globalisation development.
President Halonen’s wish was that the economic historians produce the kind of information that would help control the inequalities brought about by globalisation between regions and peoples.
For its keynote speakers at the opening session the congress had chosen the former executive board member of the European Central Bank, Sirkka Hämäläinen of Finland and the 1993 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, Robert W. Fogel of the United States.
Fogel, however, cancelled his attendance at the last minute, and his speech was delivered by his former student, professor of economics Kenneth L. Sokoloff from the University of California, Los Angeles.
In recent years, Fogel has concentrated in his research on the economies of the South-East Asia. "In the past few years, the economic growth of India and China has been 3-4 times faster than the long-term economic growth of Europe and the United States."
"In 2020, India and China will overtake the western countries in terms of the gross national product, and by 2040 their GDP per capita will have matched that of the western societies", Fogel estimates.
Fogel believes that China and India’s present growth will continue "at least for a generation", for these countries have invested strongly in education.
At the end of this academic year, China and India will produce 3.3 and 3.1 million bachelor’s degree graduates respectively, against 1.3 million from the United States.
In China and India, productivity will grow further with the movement of labour from low-productivity agriculture to industrial jobs. The introduction of new technologies will further hasten this development.
The Helsinki congress is the largest IEHA congress to date.
The event, held in Helsinki from August 21st until 25th, is organised by the University of Helsinki's Departments of Social Science History and History.