22 January 2005

Stadtluft macht frei

Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution notes a followup to a Nick Kristof article a while back.
Nicholas Kristof updates his story on the sex slaves that he bought (and freed) in Cambodia. For the main story read the whole thing but the following anecdote caught my eye as saying a lot about problems of development that are not much discussed in the literature: short-time horizons, envy, the dragging down of the ambitious and the almost inherent lack of property rights in small communities.

[See Marginal Revolution for the anecdote]...

Eventually, and with help, Srey Neth moves to the city, in the process recapitulating an important aspect of Western economic development best encapsulated by the German phrase Stadtluft macht frei, city air makes one free (PDF).
Migration also seems to be a key factor!

BTW, Alex omits the parenthesized conditional: "Stadtluft macht frei (nach Ablaufe von Jahr und Tag)" 'City air makes one free (after the lapse of a year and a day)'. And sometimes it takes much, much longer--more than a generation.

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