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Economic stagnation and labour market segmentation in the North Atlantic coast of Colombia: 1900-1930.

Javier Rodriguez Aguilar, Oscar (1995) Economic stagnation and labour market segmentation in the North Atlantic coast of Colombia: 1900-1930. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to gain insight into the problem of economic development in general and of Latin America in particular. Its main inquiry is to attempt an explanation of the process of regional economic development based on historical fact. That is, how does one reconcile economic stagnation with the presence of a high wage economy. A chronological sequence of primary and secondary quotes tailors the theme, as major evidence for our argument. We do not wish to centre it on the wage variable. However, as the usual assumption exists about the lack of information on wages, economic evidence of wage differentiation is presented in an effort to disprove such an assumption. For this reason, a misunderstanding of the role of wages in economic decline over other alternative or complementary explanations, may emerge. This thesis makes allowances for the exploration of several different ways in which imperfections in the labour market influenced wage levels in the NAC region. Nevertheless, it is not about alternate or complementary explanations. Neither is it about explaining why there was insufficient interregional migration within Colombia. We mention these viewpoints, of course. Likewise, we understand that other aspects would enable the reader to better assess the role of wages. Aspects such as data on the progress of the particular sectors under consideration--particularly on demand, rates of growth, etc. But because they are such vast themes, they become more (and are) material for further research. Therefore, they are matters that lie well beyond the scope of this thesis. In sum, this thesis suggests that labour market imperfection be at the centre of an economic explanation. Its argument is that imperfections in factor mobility--between the NAC region and other parts of the country, and internationally--meant employers faced a labour shortage in the NAC region. The large-scale corporate unit of the banana sector was able to meet the resulting high wages. Since it was a large employer, it set wages for the rest of the region. Other employers were not, in the end, able to operate profitably at this wage level. We wrote this thesis to counteract those who overindulged--and continue to do so--in the explanation of national economic development in Colombia. It therefore seeks to counterbalance the excessive emphasis placed on coffee, in the literature on the economic development and economic history of the nation. This had been studied upon the basis of a particular interior region's successful commodity--and sheer negligence--of the particular element of regional diversity. The present research and analysis of economic facts show a completely different economic scenario. The thesis attempts to deal with the former by theoretically suggesting an orthodox approach. But there is also an effort to assail the latter by showing the historical economic facts in straightforward manner, that highlight the existence of a high wage economy in the region under scrutiny. This represents an economic historical fact that was never mentioned in the discourse of analysis of economic development in Colombia. The content of this work seeks to treat the general view of the process of economic development in the NAC region of Colombia, with as much contempt, as the failure to research it adequately, has produced in us.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Economics, Labor, Latin American Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2471

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