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What do cross-sectional growth regressions tell us about convergence?

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  • Daniel G. Swaine
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    Abstract

    This paper tests the dynamic implications of beta-convergence with time-series data from 48 contiguous U.S. states. The motivation for this paper rests with the interpretation of results from cross-sectional growth regressions. These results show that poor regions experience faster per-capita income growth than rich regions. This is interpreted as evidence of convergence. However, convergence is a dynamic adjustment process with testable implications in time-series data, while the literature employs cross-sectional data to estimate this dynamic concept. A set of strong assumptions must be made to jump from this cross-sectional correlation to its interpretation as a speed of convergence. We find that the time-series properties of the data appear to be inconsistent with beta-convergence dynamics. Further, our analysis rejects the assumptions necessary to interpret the cross-sectional correlation as a speed of convergence. Therefore, our results call into questions the interpretation that has been placed on this important cross-sectional finding.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 98-4.

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    Date of creation: 1998
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:98-4

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    Keywords: Economic development;

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    1. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
    2. Wolff, Edward N, 1991. "Capital Formation and Productivity Convergence over the Long Term," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 565-79, June.
    3. Barro, Robert J. & Mankiw, N Gregory & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1994. "Capital Mobility in Neoclassical Models of Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1019, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1987. "Inter-Industry Wage Differences and Theories of Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 2271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Bernard, Andrew B & Jones, Charles I, 1996. "Productivity across Industries and Countries: Time Series Theory and Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 135-46, February.
    6. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
    7. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1994. "Regional cohesion: Evidence and theories of regional growth and convergence," Economics Working Papers 104, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    8. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
    9. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    10. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-51, April.
    11. Dowrick, Steve & Quiggin, John, 1997. "True Measures of GDP and Convergence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 41-64, March.
    12. Sahling, Leonard G & Smith, Sharon P, 1983. "Regional Wage Differentials: Has the South Risen Again?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(1), pages 131-35, February.
    13. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
    14. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1991. "Convergence across States and Regions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 107-182.
    15. Zsolt Becsi, 1996. "Do state and local taxes affect relative state growth?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Mar, pages 18-36.
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