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Competitiveness and Pakistan: A Dangerous, Distorting, and Dead-End Obsession?

  • Matthew McCartney


    (Lecturer, Wolfson College, University of Oxford)

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    Competitiveness has become a mantra and organizing framework for much government policymaking in Pakistan and beyond. Rarely does anyone question the concept and use of the competitiveness paradigm itself. Krugman (1994) argues that this ”obsession with competitiveness is both wrong and dangerous.” This article draws from Krugman’s work and examines the use (or abuse) of the concept of competitiveness in the context of contemporary Pakistan. We focus on three recent and influential reports on competitiveness in Pakistan by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and Competitiveness Support Fund, and agree with Krugman’s negative view.

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    Article provided by Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics in its journal Lahore Journal of Economics.

    Volume (Year): 17 (2012)
    Issue (Month): Special Edition (September)
    Pages: 213-241

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    Handle: RePEc:lje:journl:v:17:y:2012:i:sp:p:213-241
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    1. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Mohsin S. Khan, 2005. "Human Capital and Economic Growth in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 44(4), pages 455-478.
    4. Dani Rodrik, 2003. "Growth Strategies," NBER Working Papers 10050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    6. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2004. "Local Capture: Evidence From a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 678-704, May.
    7. Rashid Amjad, 2005. "Skills and Competitiveness: Can Pakistan Break Out of the Low-Level Skills Trap?," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 44(4), pages 387-409.
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