Home

  Mancur Olson: How Bright are the Northern Lights? Some Questions about Sweden

Mancur Olson's booklet "How Bright are the Northern Lights? Some Questions about Sweden" was published in 1990 by the Institute of Economic Research, Lund University. The text is a development and an elaboration of the Crafoord lecture held by Mancur Olson in Lund in 1986.

The Institute of Economic Research, which also owns the copyright, has kindly allowed me - Erik Moberg - to post the booklet here.

The introductory parts of the booklet, and its chapters, are posted as pdf-files. Here are the links:

 
Contents, Introduction and Preface (pdf-file, 23 KB)
Chapter 1: Why Isn't Sweden Worse off? (pdf-file, 93 KB)
  Is the Standard Answer to the First Question Wrong?
  Are Time Lags the Answer?
  Is Swedish Culture the Explanation?
  Government Size and Economic Growth in the West
  The Route to an Answer to the Second Question
Chapter 2: International Trade, Competitive Markets, and Economic Growth (pdf-file, 68 KB)
  Some Surprisingly Strong Statistical Relationships
  The Historical Relationship is Also Strong
  Wider Evidence on Free Trade, Competitive Markets, and Growth
  Why Does Protectionism Hurt Growth More than Welfare Does?
Chapter 3: Explicit, Implicit, and Efficient Redistribution (pdf-file, 43 KB)
  "Implicit" and "Explicit" Redistributions
  The Criteria for Redistributions Generate the Social Costs
  Slower Innovation as a Deadweight Loss
  Conditions on Explicit Redistributions to the Poor
  The Theory of Efficient Redistribution
  We are Not Done Yet
Chapter 4: "Rational Ignorance" and the Bias of Collective Action (pdf-file, 35 KB)
  The Difficulties of Collective Action
  The Inegalitarian Bias of Collective Action
Chapter 5: Why Implicit and Inefficient Redistribution is Commonplace (pdf-file, 65 KB)
  Will Coalitions Seek Unconditional Cash Transfers?
  Rational Ignorance Makes Implicit Redistributions Possible
  The Implicit Redistributions that Rational Ignorance Permits are Almost Never Efficient Redistributions
  Aggregate Evidence on the Inefficiency of Implicit Redistributions
  The Salience of the Evidence in Chapter 2
  Sudden Increases in the Size of the Market and the Polity that Determines Trade Policy
Chapter 6: The Lower Costs and Ultimate Limits of Explicit Redistribution (pdf-file, 92 KB)
  What Limits the Amount of Implicit Redistribution in Sweden
  Encompassing Organizations
  Factors Lowering the Costs of Explicit Redistributions
  A Recapitulation
  Too Much of A Good Thing is Bad: Nonlinearities and Lags
  How Bright are the Northern Lights?