Outline of: Joel Mokyr: A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy

Must-Read: The mysterious Pseudoerasmus says--I believe correctly--that Cuba's very real accomplishments in raising human development index values since 1959 are not nearly enough to offset the other major manifest flaws of the Castro brothers' regime in the scales of history.

I would add that had Cuba been a normal North Atlantic country since 1957, then starting from where it was then--as not a poor but a middle-income country--and following the standard North Atlantic historical trajectory would have delivered equivalent improvements in human development index, plus lots more in the way f material plenty, plus a free press, plus real elections, plus a whole host of other bourgeois virtues and comforts:

Pseudoerasmus: Ideology & Human Development:

My overall point can be summarised thus....

It’s not technically difficult or financially onerous to substantially improve life expectancy and infant mortality even for a poor country. What usually gets in the way is a combination of politics, institutional capacity, and cultural predispositions. Cuba’s accomplishments in human development are real, but not nearly as impressive as boosters claim.

  • First, Cuba’s social indicators were already advanced in 1960 compared with its natural peers.
  • Second, Castro’s regime was massively subsidised by the Soviets in overcoming the fixed costs associated with improving human development to near-developed country levels.
  • Third, Cuba’s HD outcomes were facilitated by an authoritarian central planning regime with few political and social constraints faced by most human societies, which treated prestige health and educational metrics like Gosplan production targets to be met at all cost.