Just like the East Asian Tigers, the Lions of Africa are now growing much faster than the developed economies. However, this column shows that the growth escalators in Africa are different than in East Asia. The East Asian Tigers benefitted from a rapidly expanding manufacturing sector. The African Lions are benefitting from increases in productivity in the service sector, while the agricultural sector remains unproductive.
The literature on global growth convergence and divergence is vast and deep. And it is still evolving. Some have argued that global growth is actually diverging across countries. Pritchett (1977) called this “divergence, big time”, whereby the living standards of a few countries pulled away from the rest in the aftermath of the industrial revolution. Others have found evidence in favour of growth convergence.
A new look at global growth convergence and divergence
Michele Battisti, Gianfranco di Vaio, Joseph Zeira09 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.
The phenomenon of modern economic growth is fairly new. It started less than two centuries ago, but it changed our lives significantly. One of the main changes is that income gaps between countries have greatly increased. One of the main questions that concern economists who study economic growth is whether these gaps are still growing, or countries are instead converging to the same level of income. This question is empirical, but it has important theoretical implications, as our main growth theories predict convergence between countries.
Poor countries have access to world markets and rich countries’ technologies. In principle, they should catch up. Yet the record belies this expectation. But this column argues labour productivity in manufacturing displays a clear tendency towards convergence, unconditional on the countries’ institutions or policies. The policies that matter for growth are thus those that bear on the reallocation of labour from nonconvergence to convergence activities.
Poor countries have access to world markets, off-the-shelf technologies developed by others, and rich countries’ savings. So in principle, they should develop rapidly – more rapidly than advanced economies, which are already at the technological frontier. Yet the historical record belies this expectation. Economic convergence depends in practice on a whole host of policy, institutional, and geographic determinants, the nature of which remains vigorously debated (Acemoglu 2009).
If rich and poor countries have access to the same technology, shouldn't their productivity levels eventually converge? This would imply that poor countries should grow more quickly until they catch up – but such a tendency has never been proven. CEPR DP8631 shows that this convergence in output does in fact occur – but within manufacturing sectors rather than in economies as a whole.
The authors of DP6456 focus on the extent to which monetary union has led to the integration of financial markets across the euro area, and in particular investigate the effects of two dimensions: the unification of bond markets, and the anchoring of long-run inflation expectations.
One desired outcome at the time when EMU was conceived was having countries with less well-anchored expectations benefit from a more credible monetary policy-making framework. The authors of DP6456 focus on the extent to which monetary union has led to the integration of financial markets across the euro area, and in particular investigate the effects of two dimensions: the unification of bond markets, and the anchoring of long-run inflation expectations.
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