Most of the world is now at the point where the support ratio is becoming adverse, and the growth of the global workforce is slowing. This column argues that these changes will have profound and negative effects on economic growth. This implies that negative real interest rates are not the new normal, but rather an extreme artefact of a series of trends, several of which are coming to an end. By 2025, real interest rates should have returned to their historical equilibrium value of around 2.5–3%.
Charles A.E. Goodhart, Philipp Erfurth, 04 November 2014
Michele Battisti, Gianfranco di Vaio, Joseph Zeira, 09 January 2014
A key question in economics is whether poor countries will automatically close the income gap with rich countries. However, different empirical methods yield different answers – growth regressions suggest convergence, whereas tests of distribution dynamics suggest divergence. This column discusses recent research that reconciles these two strands of the literature. It extends the benchmark growth regression model to include a parameter that determines the share of new technologies a country can adopt each year. The result is that, although each country converges to a growth path, the growth paths themselves may diverge.
Enrico Spolaore, Romain Wacziarg, 03 October 2013
There is now widespread agreement that ‘deep’ history matters for comparative development. Recent research has shown that ancestry – the transmission of genetic and cultural traits across generations – matters more than the history of geographic regions. This column argues that long-term divergences in inherited traits can create barriers to the diffusion of technology. The greater a population’s genetic distance to the population on the technological frontier, the lower its relative income will be. Development policies should aim at reducing barriers to exchange and communication.
Ursula Fritsch, Holger Görg, 23 September 2013
Outsourcing is a controversial practice. This column looks at its effects on firm-level innovation in emerging markets. The authors find robust evidence that outsourcing is positively related to various innovation measures. However, outsourcing only leads to increased R&D spending in countries where intellectual-property rights are well-protected.
Nune Hovhannisyan, Wolfgang Keller, 20 April 2010
Volcano-linked flight restrictions have brought Europe’s business travel to a halt; does it matter? This column describes recent research that demonstrates that short-term cross-border travel is critical to technology transfer and innovation – crucial factors behind economic growth.
Michael Spence, 11 September 2009
In fifty years, 3.4 billion people in developing countries will approach advanced country income levels with consumption, energy use, and emissions patterns to match. In this column, Nobel Laureate Michael Spence argues that advanced countries should lead the way with technology and a global strategy to reduce the carbon intensity of their economies. That will lay the groundwork for developing economies to follow a sustainable path as they graduate to higher income levels.
Wolfgang Keller, Stephen Yeaple, 17 March 2009
What jobs are headed overseas? This column emphasises that the feasibility of offshoring tasks is heavily influenced by the costs of transferring technology and managing complex tasks. Offshoring may be less about lower factor costs and more about the race between technology transfers and trade costs.