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Looking for a break: Identifying transitions in growth regimes


  • Kar, Sabyasachi
  • Pritchett, Lant
  • Raihan, Selim
  • Sen, Kunal


Economic growth in developing countries is characterized by frequent shifts in growth regimes. Following Pritchett (2000), there is a large empirical literature that has tried to identify the timing of these shifts in economic growth. Two distinct approaches have been developed by this literature. The first is a ‘filter-based’ approach that identifies growth breaks on the basis of subjectively defined rules, while the second approach is based on statistical structural break tests. The first approach is ‘ad hoc’ and lacks consistency across studies while the Bai–Perron method that is the basis of the statistical approach has low power, not able to discern true breaks in growth. In this paper, we propose a unified approach that combines the filter and statistical approaches, and avoids the limitations of each approach. Applying our approach to comparable GDP per capita data for 125 countries for the period 1950–2010, we are able to identify a much larger number of plausible breaks in GDP per capita than a pure statistical approach. More importantly, our approach is able to identify more breaks from countries with volatile growth paths, and hence has a larger proportion of breaks from developing countries, compared to other studies that use the pure statistical method of Bai–Perron.

Suggested Citation

  • Kar, Sabyasachi & Pritchett, Lant & Raihan, Selim & Sen, Kunal, 2013. "Looking for a break: Identifying transitions in growth regimes," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 38(PB), pages 151-166.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:38:y:2013:i:pb:p:151-166 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmacro.2013.09.022

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kevin S. Nell & Maria M. De Mello, 2015. "Testing Capital Accumulation-Driven Growth Models in a Multiple-Regime Framework: Evidence from South Africa," CEF.UP Working Papers 1501, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    2. Robert Darko Osei & Charles Ackah & George Domfe & Michael Danquah, 2015. "Political settlements, the deals environment and economic growth: The case of Ghana," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series esid-053-15, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    3. Pritchett, Lant & Sen, Kunal & Kar, Sabyasachi & Raihan, Selim, 2016. "Trillions gained and lost: Estimating the magnitude of growth episodes," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 279-291.
    4. Tommaso Ciarli & Andre Lorentz & Marco Valente & Mario Savona, 2017. "Structural Changes and Growth Regimes," SPRU Working Paper Series 2017-12, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    5. Kunal Sen & Sabyasachi Kar & Jagadish Prasad Sahu, 2014. "The political economy of economic growth in India, 1993-2013," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series esid-044-14, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    6. Bulman, David & Eden, Maya & Nguyen, Ha, 2017. "Transitioning from Low-Income Growth to High-Income Growth: Is there a Middle-Income Trap?," ADBI Working Papers 646, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    7. Alexander Yu. Apokin & Irina B. Ipatova, 2016. "Structural Breaks in Potential GDP Of Three Major Economies: Just Impaired Credit or the “New Normal”?," HSE Working papers WP BRP 142/EC/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    8. Ahlerup, Pelle & Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Bigsten, Arne, 2016. "Government Impartiality and Sustained Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 54-69.
    9. Harry X. Wu & Eric Girardin, 2016. "The ‘new’ normal is ‘old’ in China: Very late catching up and return to the (pre-WTO) old normal," EcoMod2016 9721, EcoMod.
    10. Pritchett, Lant & Summers, Lawrence H., 2013. "Asia-phoria meet regression to the mean," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov, pages 1-35.
    11. Michael Fritsch & Alina Sorgner & Michael Wyrwich & Evguenii Zazdravnykh, 2016. "Historical Shocks and Persistence of Economic Activity: Evidence from a Unique Natural Experiment," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1607, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Apr 2016.
    12. Andrew G. Berg & Jonathan D. Ostry, 2017. "Inequality and Unsustainable Growth: Two Sides of the Same Coin?," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 65(4), pages 792-815, November.
    13. Sen, Kunal & Pritchett, Lant & Kar, Sabyasachi & Raihan, Selim, 2016. "Democracy Versus Dictatorship? The Political Determinants of Growth Episodes," Working Paper Series rwp17-009, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    14. Foster-McGregor, Neil & Kaba, Ibrahima & Szirmai, Adam, 2015. "Structural change and the ability to sustain growth," MERIT Working Papers 048, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item


    Economic growth; Growth regimes; Structural breaks; Bai–Perron;

    JEL classification:

    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence


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