The Middle-Income Trap in the Perspective of the Austrian Capital Theory

Keywords: Middle-income trap, emerging markets, Austrian economics, capital theory, entrepreneurship, development policy, conomic growth


This paper applies the Austrian capital theory to the problem why emerging economies fall into the middle-income trap and how they may escape. The analysis puts entrepreneurial action at the center with a focus on the subjectivist nature of capital and on the role of the entrepreneur as the creator of the capital structure based on expectations and his imagination. The central thesis says that when a developing country has come close to the lower bound of the income level of the industrialized countries in its catch-up process but does not open its economy to free markets and entrepreneurship, further economic progress will fail, and the country remains in the middle-income range. The paper identifies grand-scale malinvestments induced by government policies as the main culprit for a country to become stuck in the middle-income trap. The policy conclusion of the analysis is that the way out of the middle-income requires not more, but less intervention. Instead of more government spending, less spending is required and instead of promoting a few big companies, the country must open its markets to the full potential of entrepreneurial action.



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Author Biography

Antony Peter Mueller, UFS

Dr. phil., Dr. phil. habil, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, professor of economics at the Federal University of Sergipe (UFS), Brazil, associate scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and senior fellow of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER)


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How to Cite
Mueller, A. (2018). The Middle-Income Trap in the Perspective of the Austrian Capital Theory. MISES: Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, Law and Economics.
Special Issue 2018