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Jeffrey G. Williamson

Jeffrey G. Williamson is Laird Bell Professor of Economics Emeritus at Harvard and Honorary Fellow in the Department of Economics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the coauthor (with Kevin O’Rourke) of Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy and (with Timothy J. Hatton) of Global Migration and the World Economy: Two Centuries of Policy and Performance, both published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Author

When the Third World Fell Behind

Today’s wide economic gap between the postindustrial countries of the West and the poorer countries of the third world is not new. Fifty years ago, the world economic order—two hundred years in the making—was already characterized by a vast difference in per capita income between rich and poor countries and by the fact that poor countries exported commodities (agricultural or mineral products) while rich countries exported manufactured products. In Trade and Poverty, leading economic historian Jeffrey G. Williamson traces the great divergence between the third world and the West to this nexus of trade, commodity specialization, and poverty.

Analyzing the role of specialization, de-industrialization, and commodity price volatility with econometrics and case studies of India, Ottoman Turkey, and Mexico, Williamson demonstrates why the close correlation between trade and poverty emerged. Globalization and the great divergence were causally related, and thus the rise of globalization over the past two centuries helps account for the income gap between rich and poor countries today.

In Globalization and the Poor Periphery before 1950 Jeffrey Williamson examines globalization through the lens of both the economist and the historian, analyzing its economic impact on industrially lagging poor countries in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Williamson argues that industrialization in the core countries of northwest Europe and their overseas settlements, combined with a worldwide revolution in transportation, created an antiglobal backlash in the periphery, the poorer countries of eastern and southern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.During the "first global century," from about 1820 to 1913, and the antiglobal autarkic interwar period from 1914 to 1940, new methods of transportation integrated world commodity markets and caused a boom in trade between the core and the periphery. Rapid productivity growth, which lowered the price of manufactured goods, led to a soaring demand in the core countries for raw materials supplied by the periphery. When the boom turned into bust, after almost a century and a half, the gap in living standards between the core and the periphery was even wider than it had been at the beginning of the cycle. The periphery, argues Williamson, obeyed the laws of motion of the international economy. Synthesizing and summarizing fifteen years of Williamson's pioneering work on globalization, the book documents these laws of motion in the periphery, assesses their distribution and growth consequences, and examines the response of trade policy in these regions.

Two Centuries of Policy and Performance

World mass migration began in the early nineteenth century, when advances in transportation technology and industrial revolutions at home enabled increasing numbers of people to set off for other parts of the globe in search of a better life. Two centuries later, there is no distant African, Asian, or Latin American village that is not within reach of some high-wage OECD labor market. This book is the first comprehensive economic assessment of world mass migration taking a long-run historical perspective, including north-north, south-south, and south-north migrations. Timothy Hatton and Jeffrey Williamson, both economists and economic historians, consider two centuries of global mobility, assessing its impact on the migrants themselves as well as on the sending and receiving countries.

Global Migration and the World Economy covers two great migration waves: the first, from the 1820s to the beginning of World War I, when immigration was largely unrestricted; the second, beginning in 1950, when mass migration continued to grow despite policy restrictions. The book also explores the period between these two global centuries when world migration shrank sharply because of two world wars, immigration quotas, and the Great Depression. The authors assess the economic performance of these world migrations, the policy reactions to deal with them, and the political economy that connected one with the other. The last third of Global Migration and the World Economy focuses on modern experience and shows how contemporary debates about migration performance and policy can be informed by a comprehensive historical perspective.

The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy

Globalization is not a new phenomenon, nor is it irreversible. In Gobalization and History, Kevin O'Rourke and Jeffrey Williamson present a coherent picture of trade, migration, and international capital flows in the Atlantic economy in the century prior to 1914--the first great globalization boom, which anticipated the experience of the last fifty years.The authors estimate the extent of globalization and its impact on the participating countries, and discuss the political reactions that it provoked. The book's originality lies in its application of the tools of open-economy economics to this critical historical period--differentiating it from most previous work, which has been based on closed-economy or single-sector models. The authors also keep a close eye on globalization debates of the 1990s, using history to inform the present and vice versa.The book brings together research conducted by the authors over the past decade--work that has profoundly influenced how economic history is now written and that has found audiences in economics and history, as well as in the popular press.