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Globalization, Structural Change and Productivity Growth

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  • Margaret S. McMillan
  • Dani Rodrik

Abstract

Large gaps in labor productivity between the traditional and modern parts of the economy are a fundamental reality of developing societies. In this paper, we document these gaps, and emphasize that labor flows from low-productivity activities to high-productivity activities are a key driver of development. Our results show that since 1990 structural change has been growth reducing in both Africa and Latin America, with the most striking changes taking place in Latin America. The bulk of the difference between these countries’ productivity performance and that of Asia is accounted for by differences in the pattern of structural change – with labor moving from low- to high-productivity sectors in Asia, but in the opposite direction in Latin America and Africa. In our empirical work, we identify three factors that help determine whether (and the extent to which) structural change contributes to overall productivity growth. In countries with a relatively large share of natural resources in exports, structural change has typically been growth reducing. Even though these “enclave” sectors usually operate at very high productivity, they cannot absorb the surplus labor from agriculture. By contrast, competitive or undervalued exchange rates and labor market flexibility have contributed to growth enhancing structural change.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17143.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Publication status: published as “Globalization, Structural Change and Productivity Growth,” 2011. In Making Globalization Socially Sustainable, edited by Mark Bachetta and Marion Jansen, International Labor Organization, Geneva Switzerland. (with Dani Rodrik)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17143

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  1. Horn Welch, Karen & McMillan, Margaret & Rodrik, Dani, 2002. "When Economic Reform Goes Wrong: Cashews in Mozambique," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 3519, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Stefano Scarpetta: & John Haltiwanger & Eric Bartelsman:, 2007. "Cross Country Differences in Productivity: The Role of Allocative Efficiency," 2007 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 134, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Eva Paus & Nola Reinhardt & Michael Robinson, 2003. "Trade liberalization and productivity growth in latin american manufacturing, 1970-98," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 127-127.
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  11. Pedro Cavalcanti Ferreira & JosÈ Luiz Rossi, 2003. "New Evidence from Brazil on Trade Liberalization and Productivity Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1383-1405, November.
  12. Timmer, Marcel P. & Vries, Gaaitzen J. de, 2007. "A Cross-country Database For Sectoral Employment And Productivity in Asia and Latin America, 1950-2005," GGDC Research Memorandum, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen GD-98, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  13. Wobst, Peter & Thurlow, James, 2005. "The Road to Pro-Poor Growth in Zambia: Past Lessons and Future Challenges," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Kiel 2005 37, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
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