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The Effects of Financial Development on Convergence: Theory and Evidence

  • Philippe Aghion
  • Peter Howitt
  • David Mayer-Foulkes

We introduce imperfect creditor protection in a multi-country version of Schumpeterian growth theory with technology transfer. The theory predicts that the growth rate of any country with more than some critical level of financial development will converge to the growth rate of the world technology frontier, and that all other countries will have a strictly lower long-run growth rate. The theory also predicts that in a country that converges to the frontier growth rate, financial development has a positive but eventually vanishing effect on steady-state per-capita GDP relative to the frontier. We present cross-country evidence supporting these two implications. In particular, we find a significant and sizeable effect of an interaction term between the log of initial per-capita GDP (relative to the United States) and a financial intermediation measure, in an otherwise standard growth regression, implying that the likelihood of converging to the U.S. growth rate increases with financial development. We also find that, as predicted by the theory, the direct effect of financial intermediation in this regression is not significantly different from zero. In addition, we find that other variables representing schooling, geography, health, policy, politics and institutions do not affect the significance of the interaction between financial intermediation and initial per capita GDP, and do not show any independent effect on convergence in our cross-country regressions. Our findings are robust to removal of outliers and to alternative conditioning sets, estimation procedures and measures of financial development.

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Paper provided by DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade in its series DEGIT Conference Papers with number c009_021.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c009_021
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