Quantitative cross-national studies of economic development: A comparison of the economics and sociology literatures

  • Angela Martin Crowly
  • James Rauch
  • Susanne Seagrave
  • David A. Smith
Development Theory

DOI: 10.1007/BF02687407

Cite this article as:
Crowly, A.M., Rauch, J., Seagrave, S. et al. St Comp Int Dev (1998) 33: 30. doi:10.1007/BF02687407


For more than two decades, economists and sociologists have pursued parallel cross-national quantitative investigations of the determinants of economic development. These investigations have proceeded in mutual ignorance despite the often large overlap in statistical methods and data employed. Apparently contradictory findings have resulted, especially regarding the impacts of international trade and foreign direct investment. We find that there are two factors that account for these inconsistent results. One key factor is the use of different variables to measure international trade and investment, the choice of which is in turn driven by underlying differences in theoretical motivations. A second important difference involves sociologists’ greater preoccupation with more complex multivariate models versus economists’ greater willingness to focus on individual variables in multivariate regressions while viewing others as “controls.” A major finding of our survey is that when thesame variables are used, the results of economists and sociologists tend to be consistent, rather than contradictory (as might have occurred, for example, because of the use of different samples of countries or time periods, or the use of other variables included in the regression equations). We also consider some studies whose purviews go beyond economic growth to consider factors such as income inequality, physical quality of life, demographic change, and basic needs provisioning.

Copyright information

© Springer 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Martin Crowly
    • 1
  • James Rauch
    • 2
  • Susanne Seagrave
    • 3
  • David A. Smith
    • 4
  1. 1.the Department of SociologyUniversity of CaliforniaIrvine, Irvine
  2. 2.the department of EconomicsUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego, La Jolla
  3. 3.the U.S. General Accounting OfficeWashington, D.C.
  4. 4.the Department of SociologyUniversity of California, IrvineIrvine

Personalised recommendations