Avoiding middle-income growth traps
Pierre-Richard Agénor, Otaviano Canuto, Michael Jelenic 21 December 2012
Many of the emerging economies of the last two decades are now ensnared by ‘the middle-income trap’, in which middle-income countries don’t quite push through to high income status. This column presents recent research suggesting that, if governments act early and decisively to improve access to advanced infrastructure, enhance the protection of property rights, and reform labour markets, trapped economies – like their East Asian counterparts in the 1990s – can push on through.
In the postwar era, many countries have managed to quickly reach middle-income status, but few have gone on to become high-income economies1. Rather, after an initial period of rapid ascent, many countries have experienced a sharp slowdown in growth and productivity, falling into what has been called a ‘middle-income trap’:
Development International trade Labour markets Productivity and Innovation
income, innovation, labour market reform, investment, middle income