This paper discusses the applicability of Prebisch’s centre-periphery model in the current debate about sustainable development. Instead of the traditional analysis of the development process based on changes in the output composition, emphasising the duality between raw materials and industrial goods, the model dynamics is presented as a function of the systemic determinants of competitiveness. Therefore, the enforcement of an industrial sector based on cheap labour and natural resources may not result in the expected solution of economic and social problems, despite of the increasing share of manufactured goods in total output and exports. In this new perspective about the relationship between the “delay” and the “modern”, the environmental question appears as one of the possible analytical axis, and the “environmental exclusion” can be understood as analogous to the economic and social inequalities in the development process.
Prebisch, sustainable development, trade and the environment
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