How rich countries became rich and why poor countries remain poor: It's the economic structure…duh!
Becoming a rich country requires being able to produce and export commodities that embody certain characteristics. We classify 779 commodities (exported) according to two dimensions: (1) sophistication (measured by the income content of the products exported) and (2) connectivity to other products (measured by how easy it is to ‘jump’ into other potential exports). We identify 88 “good” products (highly sophisticated and well connected products), 93 “bad” products (unsophisticated and poorly connected products), and 598 “middle” products. Then, we categorize 154 countries into four groups according to the export share of each of these three types of products. There are 21 countries whose export baskets contain at least 15% of “good” products; 41 countries with a significant share of relatively sophisticated and well connected products; 50 countries with a significant share of relatively unsophisticated and not well connected products; and 42 countries whose export basket contains at least 15% of “bad” products.
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"What You Export Matters,"
NBER Working Papers
11905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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