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Abstract

The main thesis of the paper is that, while the US economy has widely adopted a fordist model of growth since 1908, and this has largely contributed to the building and consolidation of its economic pre-eminence, Japan and most Western European countries have adopted it mainly in the 1950-1973 period, the golden age of European and Japanese growth, and China has adopted important aspects of fordist and post-fordist models in the 1980-2008 period.. The Chinese case shows that the crucial elements of the fordist model of growth - the economies of scale or of network, the rise of productivity, the increase in wages and in total wage bill, the increase in consumption, in total profits, in investment and in GDP - can give a great boost to industrial and economic growth and then to exports in certain phases of the economic history of a country, although contributing to determine also some socially undesirable consequences, such as rapidly growing economic and social imbalances and income inequalities.

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... The objective of this paper is to evaluate and compare some aspects of the different growth patterns of the two economies analyzing in particular the relations between structural change and economic development. In doing so, we will utilise three concepts: Gerschenkron's " relative economic backwardness " (Gerschenkron, 1962; Fuà, 1980), " the fordist model of growth " (Valli, 2002Valli, , 2005Valli, , 2009) and Syrquin's distinction between the productivity effect and reallocation effect (Syrquin, 1986). The first concept is well known and stresses the fact that an emerging backward economy may benefit from some advantages, such as the adoption of modern technologies coming from more advanced countries and the possibility of transferring large masses of the labour force from low productivity sectors (agriculture and traditional tertiary activities) to sectors with higher productivity (industry and modern services). ...
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