By D. C. M. Platt, Guido Di Tella
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Additional resources for Argentina, Australia and Canada: Studies in Comparative Development 1870–1965
In our own century it would seem that new lands are unlikely to warrant significant agricultural expansion, although one should not underestimate what new agricultural technology can do to expand a frontier over very cold or mountainous territory, tropical lands, or areas of very low rainfall. But what is not only possible but actually taking place all the time is the systematic search for, and discovery of, new mineral lands, of which oil fields are the most coveted. In this, clearly, we are nearer to the case of pure discovery followed usually by immediate exploitation.
In economic terms, 'pacification' meant a reduction in risks and uncertainty, and consequently a reduction in costs (at times quite dramatic). If one looks at the areas of recent settlement one can see that initial discovery was followed by one or two centuries of painstakingly-slow expansion. Discovery was indeed a special case of innovation. The long period which preceded actual economic incorporation can be compared with the time span of the 'diffusion' process which characterised invention in general.
In the short run the vast economic opportunities that were opened up far exceeded the possibility of exploitation. Expansion was frantic. It was known that if railroads were taken further, more land could be brought profitably into cultivation. But the incorporation of such vast expanses of land required time - time to bring immigrants from Europe to people the new cities and exploit the new land, time to build railways, roads, ports, villages and the whole infrastructure that goes with such a process.
Argentina, Australia and Canada: Studies in Comparative Development 1870–1965 by D. C. M. Platt, Guido Di Tella