IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Convergence Hypotheses are Ill-Posed:Non-stationarity of Cross-Country Income Distribution D


  • Deockhyun Ryu
  • Mahmoud A. El-Gamal


The recent literature on “convergence� of cross-country per capita incomes has been dominated by two competing hypotheses: “global convergence� and “club-convergence�. This debate has recently relied on the study of limiting distributions of estimated income distribution dynamics. Utilizing new measures of “stochastic stability�, we establish two stylized facts that question the fruitfulness of the literature’s focus on asymptotic income distributions. The first stylized fact is non-stationarity of transition dynamics, in the sense of changing transition kernels, which renders all “convergence� hypotheses that make long-term predictions on income distribution, based on relatively short time series, less meaningful. The second stylized fact is the periodic emergence, disappearance, and re-emergence of a “stochastically stable� middle-income group. We show that the probability of escaping a low-income poverty-trap depends on the existence of such a stable middle income group. While this does not answer the perennial questions about long-term effects of globalization on the cross-country income distribution, it does shed some light on the types of environments that are conducive to narrowing/

Suggested Citation

  • Deockhyun Ryu & Mahmoud A. El-Gamal, 2004. "Convergence Hypotheses are Ill-Posed:Non-stationarity of Cross-Country Income Distribution D," Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings 576, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:feam04:576

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paapaa, Richard & van Dijk, Herman K., 1998. "Distribution and mobility of wealth of nations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(7), pages 1269-1293, July.
    2. Bianchi, Marco, 1997. "Testing for Convergence: Evidence from Non-parametric Multimodality Tests," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(4), pages 393-409, July-Aug..
    3. Quah, Danny T, 1996. "Twin Peaks: Growth and Convergence in Models of Distribution Dynamics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 1045-1055, July.
    4. Quah, Danny, 1993. "Empirical cross-section dynamics in economic growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 426-434, April.
    5. George Roussas, 1969. "Nonparametric estimation in Markov processes," Annals of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Springer;The Institute of Statistical Mathematics, vol. 21(1), pages 73-87, December.
    6. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
    7. Stanley Fischer, 2003. "Globalization and Its Challenges," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 1-30, May.
    8. Phillips, Peter & Sul, Donggyu, 2003. "The Elusive Empirical Shadow of Growth Convergence," Working Papers 197, Department of Economics, The University of Auckland.
    9. Danny Quah, 1996. "Twin Peaks: Growth and Convergence in Models of Distribution Dynamics," CEP Discussion Papers dp0280, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    10. Costas Azariadis & Allan Drazen, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-526.
    11. Desdoigts, Alain, 1999. "Patterns of Economic Development and the Formation of Clubs," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 305-330, September.
    12. Kremer, Michael & Onatski, Alexei & Stock, James, 2001. "Searching for prosperity," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 275-303, December.
    13. Bulli, Sandra, 2001. "Distribution Dynamics and Cross-Country Convergence: A New Approach," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 48(2), pages 226-243, May.
    14. Johnson, Paul A., 2000. "A nonparametric analysis of income convergence across the US states," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 219-223, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    global income distribution; convergence clubs; transition kernel; stochastic stability;

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:feam04:576. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.