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Raúl Prebisch and the evolving uses of ‘centre-periphery’ in economic analysis

Jonas Rama () and John Hall ()
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Jonas Rama: Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
John Hall: Portland State University

Review of Evolutionary Political Economy, 2021, vol. 2, issue 2, 315-332

Abstract: Abstract This inquiry considers the evolving appearances and applications of ‘centre-periphery’ in economic analysis advanced especially by the Argentine economist Raúl Prebisch. We find the origins of a ‘centre-periphery’ approach in The Isolated State (1826) authored by Johann Heinrich von Thünen and we acknowledge and consider those who disseminated Thünen’s ideas to Argentina, where Prebisch studied and took on major responsibilities already during his 20s. While Thünen lays out distinct ways to employ a ‘centre-periphery’ analysis, Prebisch remains true in essential ways, but also goes beyond Thünen’s original intentions, using ‘centre-periphery’ as a versatile and convenient tool for the analysis of different economic and financial phenomena from the 1920s to 1940s. In 1949 Prebisch was launched onto the world stage at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America where he introduced this ‘centre-periphery’ concept, using it to describe asymmetric relations between Latin American economies and centres in the industrialized North. This approach was picked up and further refined into what is known as Dependency Theory that included an understanding of a symptom of regional and national inequalities known as ‘underdevelopment’. Some years prior to his passing in 1986, ‘centre-periphery’ had evolved further, providing a methodological approach for the field of ‘World Systems’.

Keywords: Business cycles; Centre-periphery; Johann Heinrich von Thünen; Monetary cycles; Raúl Prebisch; B15Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; B31History of Economic Thought; Individuals; 010Economic Development; General (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s43253-021-00036-5

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