Back to the Future: The Growth Prospects of Transition Economies Reconsidered
There are two strands in the empirical literature on economic growth in transition economies. One focuses on the impact of reforms, while the other emphasizes sustainability issues and the growth prospects these economies face. The most common strategy, in the latter, has been to use coefficients from growth regressions, on large samples of developing countries, and impose them on transition economies’ data to obtain projected growth rates. We refer to it as the BLR approach (because it uses specifications from Barro, and Levine and Renelt). We claim that the reported growth rates are suspiciously similar, painting an overly optimistic picture and yielding few policy lessons. We re-estimate the BLR equations for data on transition economies themselves and find that government expenditures have been positively associated and human capital has been negatively associated with output growth. These results contrast sharply with the assumptions and findings from the BLR approach, questioning its might and challenging our understanding of the transition process in its key dimension.
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