Fred Gruen sowed the seeds for the conference that led to this book with his September 1985 Edward Shann Memorial Lecture in Economics ‘How Bad is Australia’s Economic Performance and Why?’. The paper suggested that Australian postwar economic growth had been at best mediocre. Gruen pointed out that in 1950 output per head was the fifth highest of 24 OECD countries, but in 1977 it was thirteenth, having ‘been passed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Japan, whilst we in turn managed to pass New Zealand!’ (Gruen 1985, p. 7). He alluded to many possible explanations for this experience, including the role of special interest groups, protectionism, and labour market rigidities in the absence of corporatism. These choices and his analysis provided the framework for the ensuing conference.
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