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Policy Evaluation and Empirical Growth Research

  • Steven N. Durlauf

This paper provides a critique of the use of growth regressions to derive policy implications. The author challenges the conventional interpretation of empirical results, arguing that current econometric practice has yielded a body of evidence that is not policy relevant. Extending his own previous work, the author raises two issues of critical importance for policy purposes. First, policy recommendations arising from growth regressions are usually based on the statistical significance of some regression coefficients, which does not necessarily constitute a valid evaluation of alternative policy trajectories. Moreover, the statistical significance of a parameter does not provide information on the relative merit of it for policymakers’ objectives. Second, growth regressions as conventionally constructed do not provide credible evidence of economic structure. Consequently, policymakers are unable to make better decisions based only on regression results. The author proposes an alternative approach to the interpretation of growth regression based on Bayesian averaging techniques, which allow the weighing of different growth determinants relative to the pay-off function of the policymaker and in the context of model uncertainty (because the modeler does not know what growth determinants must be included in a model or what forms of country-level heterogeneity need to be accounted for in the model).

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Paper provided by Central Bank of Chile in its series Working Papers Central Bank of Chile with number 205.

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Date of creation: Mar 2003
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Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:205
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  1. Galor, Oded, 1996. "Convergence? Inferences from Theoretical Models," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 1056-69, July.
  2. Francisco A. Gallego & F. Leonardo Hernández, 2003. "Microeconomic effects of capital controls: The chilean experience during the 1990s," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(3), pages 225-253.
  3. Carmen Fernandez & Eduardo Ley & Mark F.J. Steel, 1998. "Benchmark Priors for Bayesian Model Averaging," Econometrics 9804001, EconWPA, revised 31 Jul 1999.
  4. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1993. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth," Papers 537, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  5. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
  6. Easterly, W & Levine, R, 1996. "Africa's Growth Tragedy : Policies and Ethnic Divisions," Papers 536, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  7. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Chamberlain, Gary, 2000. "Econometrics and decision theory," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 255-283, April.
  9. Desdoigts, Alain, 1999. " Patterns of Economic Development and the Formation of Clubs," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 305-30, September.
  10. Durlauf, S.M. & Johnson, P.A., 1995. "Multiple Regimes and Cross-Country Growth Behavior," Working papers 9419r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  11. Easterly, William & DEC, 1993. "How much do distortions affect growth?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1215, The World Bank.
  12. Quah, Danny T., 1996. "Empirics for economic growth and convergence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1353-1375, June.
  13. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  14. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
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