Many analysts view democracy as a neutral or negative factor for growth. This column discusses new evidence showing that democracy has a robust and sizable pro-growth effect. The central estimates suggest that a country that switches from non-democracy to democracy achieves about 20% higher GDP per capita over the subsequent three decades.
Daron Acemoglu, Suresh Naidu, James A Robinson, Pascual Restrepo, Monday, May 19, 2014
Carlo Carraro, Marianne Fay, Marzio Galeotti, Saturday, April 26, 2014
The concept of environmental capital is throughly entrenched in policy dicussions but largely missing from mainstream economic curriculums. This column argues environmental externalities, climate change, and constraints on natural resources will constantly and deeply affect humankind’s future. The teaching of economics, especially growth economics, should stop ignoring them.
Pascal Lamy, Ian Goldin, Friday, March 28, 2014
Excessive short-termism is always a problem for policy, but the Global Crisis has brought it sharply into focus. This column introduces a report that discusses how a shift to longer-term solutions is necessary and possible. A key message is that businesses as well as governments need to take a longer-term view. The report identifies ways to overcome the current impasse in key economic, climate, trade, security, and other negotiations.
Jonathan D Ostry, Andrew Berg, Charalambos Tsangarides, Thursday, March 6, 2014
Inequality has the potential to undermine growth. However, greater redistribution requires higher tax rates, which reduce incentives to work and save. Moreover, the evidence that inequality is bad for growth might simply reflect the fact that more unequal societies choose to redistribute more, and those efforts are antithetical to growth. This column presents evidence from a new dataset on pre- and post-tax inequality. The authors find that income equality is protective of growth, and that redistributive transfers on average have little if any direct adverse impact on growth.
Shahid Yusuf, Danny Leipziger, Monday, March 3, 2014
Urbanisation and GDP per capita are positively correlated across countries. However, when the sample is restricted to developing countries, urbanisation and growth are more loosely related – particularly in Africa. CEPR Policy Insight 71 argues that the low share of manufacturing in developing-country cities may help to explain this discrepancy. Strengthening urban finances, embracing technology, improving skills, and stimulating the formal sector will help cities to promote growth. Since decisions affecting urban development can have lasting impact, longer-term planning deserves greater attention than it is currently receiving.
Danny Leipziger, Shahid Yusuf, Monday, March 3, 2014
Urbanisation and GDP per capita are positively correlated across countries. However, when the sample is restricted to developing countries, urbanisation and growth are more loosely related – particularly in Africa. This column argues that the low share of manufacturing in developing-country cities may help to explain this discrepancy. Strengthening urban finances, embracing technology, improving skills, and stimulating the formal sector will help cities to promote growth. Since decisions affecting urban development can have lasting impact, longer-term planning deserves greater attention than it is currently receiving.
Nauro F Campos, Stefan Dercon, Saturday, March 1, 2014
Financial development and growth have long been linked. This column argues that there remain fundamental lacunae in our understanding of the finance-growth nexus. Three main areas for future research are identified: aid, institutions and technology.
Oya Celasun, Gabriel Di Bella, Tim Mahedy, Chris Papageorgiou, Monday, February 24, 2014
The strong rebound of manufacturing production following the Great Recession of 2008–09 has generated renewed interest in the sector among analysts and policymakers. This column argues that a detailed look at the data suggests that claims of a US manufacturing renaissance are unwarranted. Yet, there remain factors that could support a greater contribution from the manufacturing sector to overall US growth in the years ahead.
Manuel Adelino, Song Ma, David Robinson, Wednesday, February 12, 2014
There is a strong link between entrepreneurship and growth – young firms were responsible for almost all net job creation in the US economy over the last 30 years. This column presents new research into the responsiveness of firms of different ages to investment opportunities. Firms aged 0–23 months create about twice the total number of new jobs in response to local income shocks than firms that are more than six years old.
Carl Kitchens, Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Economists have found that large-scale infrastructure investments tend to increase economic growth and reduce poverty. However, there has been relatively little research on the effects of smaller, more targeted investment projects. This column discusses recent research on the effects of the US Rural Electrification Administration, which provided subsidised loans for connecting farms to the electric grid. Counties that received electricity through the REA witnessed smaller declines in agricultural productivity, smaller declines in land values, and more retail activity than similar counties that did not.
Eugenio Proto, Aldo Rustichini, Saturday, January 11, 2014
The link between higher national income and higher national life satisfaction is critical to economic policymaking. This column presents new evidence that the connection is hump-shaped. There is a clear, positive relation in the poorer nations and regions, but it flattens out at around $30,000–$35,000, and then turns negative.
Michele Battisti, Gianfranco di Vaio, Joseph Zeira, Thursday, January 9, 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.
David Dollar, Tatjana Kleineberg, Aart Kraay, Tuesday, November 19, 2013
A key Millennium Development Goal was to halve the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day. This was met five years ahead of schedule, and the World Bank is promoting a new goal of ‘shared prosperity’ defined in terms of the growth rate of incomes in the bottom 40% of households. This column discusses research showing that there is a strong one-for-one relationship between overall growth and average income growth in the poorest quintiles. Overall growth is thus still important.
Markus Eberhardt, Andrea F Presbitero, Sunday, November 17, 2013
The idea that there is a common tipping point in the relationship between public debt and economic growth is still widespread. However, this is likely due to a misinterpretation of the existing evidence. Once we allow for the relationship between debt and growth to be country-specific, there is limited evidence supporting the presence of a within-countries debt threshold.
Thorvaldur Gylfason, Sunday, November 17, 2013
Based on statistical measures of different degrees of democracy vs. autocracy, this article briefly reviews the progress of democracy around the world during the past 212 years, and places democratic developments in Africa since 1960 in that context. Democracy is positively associated with education, which in turn is associated with lower fertility and greater longevity. Democracy is also associated with reduced corruption. Together, these effects suggest democracy should be good for growth – a hypothesis that is borne out by the data.
James Fenske, Saturday, November 9, 2013
Several theories link polygamy to poverty. Polygamy is concentrated in west Africa and has declined in recent decades. Geographic variation in women’s agricultural productivity does not predict differences in the prevalence of polygamy, but historical inequality and exposure to the slave trade do. Although contemporary female education does not reduce polygamy, areas with more educational investment in the past have less polygamy today. Conflict and lower rainfall lead to small increases in polygamy, whereas lower child mortality leads to a large decrease. National policies appear to have little effect.
Enrico Spolaore, Romain Wacziarg, Thursday, October 3, 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.
Abigail Haddow, Chris Hare, John Hooley, Tamarah Shakir, Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Economic uncertainty is not good for GDP growth. This column presents a new, UK-specific measure of economic uncertainty. It shows that UK economic uncertainty is now at historically high levels and that it has been unusually persistent in recent years. There is evidence that elevated uncertainty has been a factor restraining the UK recovery. What happens to uncertainty going forward will be important for growth.
Rahul Anand, Saurabh Mishra, Shanaka J Peiris, Saturday, August 17, 2013
The call for inclusive growth – the pace and distribution of economic growth – has been unanimously broadcast by policymakers across the world. This column presents a new method for measuring it that’s in line with the absolute definition of pro-poor growth. This integrated measurement should prove useful for researchers wanting to delve deeper into the patterns and to study the sources of inclusive growth.
Klaus Desmet, Stephen L. Parente, Saturday, May 18, 2013
Innovation is the beating heart of modern growth. This column argues that innovation-blocking institutions weaken when markets expand and competition intensifies. The rise and decline of medieval Italian crafts guilds offer valuable insights into this process. Policies that promote greater market integration and stronger competition are key steps in lowering the barriers to innovation.