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Globalization, structural change, and productivity growth:

  • McMillan, Margaret
  • Rodrik, Dani

Large gaps in labor productivity between the traditional and modern parts of the economy are a fundamental reality of developing societies. In this paper, we document these gaps and emphasize that labor flows from low-productivity activities to high-productivity activities are a key driver of development. Our results show that since 1990 structural change has been growth-reducing in both Africa and Latin America, with the most striking changes taking place in Latin America. The bulk of the difference between these countries’ productivity performance and that of Asia is accounted for by differences in the pattern of structural change—with labor moving from low- to high-productivity sectors in Asia, but in the opposite direction in Latin America and Africa. In our empirical work, we identify three factors that help determine whether—and, if so, the extent to which—structural change contributes to overall productivity growth. In countries with a relatively large share of natural resources in exports, structural change has typically been growth-reducing. Even though these enclave sectors usually operate at very high productivity, they cannot absorb the surplus labor from agriculture. By contrast, competitive or undervalued exchange rates and labor market flexibility have contributed to growth-enhancing structural change.

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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series IFPRI discussion papers with number 1160.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1160
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  1. Margaret McMillan & Dani Rodrik & Karen Horn Welch, 2002. "When Economic Reform Goes Wrong: Cashews in Mozambique," NBER Working Papers 9117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Wobst, Peter & Thurlow, James, 2005. "The Road to Pro-Poor Growth in Zambia: Past Lessons and Future Challenges," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Kiel 2005 37, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  3. Bartelsman, Eric & Haltiwanger, John C. & Scarpetta, Stefano, 2009. "Cross-Country Differences in Productivity: The Role of Allocation and Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 4578, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Mundlak, Yair & Butzer, Rita & Larson, Donald F., 2012. "Heterogeneous technology and panel data: The case of the agricultural production function," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 139-149.
  5. Fernandes, Ana M., 2003. "Trade policy, trade volumes, and plant-level productivity in Colombian manufacturing industries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3064, The World Bank.
  6. Eva Paus & Nola Reinhardt & Michael Robinson, 2003. "Trade liberalization and productivity growth in latin american manufacturing, 1970-98," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 127-127.
  7. Marcel P. Timmer & Gaaitzen J. de Vries, 2009. "Structural change and growth accelerations in Asia and Latin America: a new sectoral data set," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 3(2), pages 165-190, June.
  8. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Thurlow, James & Wobst, Peter, 2004. "The road to pro-poor growth in Zambia," DSGD discussion papers 16, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  10. Eslava, Marcela & Haltiwanger, John C. & Kugler, Adriana & Kugler, Maurice, 2009. "Trade Reforms and Market Selection: Evidence from Manufacturing Plants in Colombia," IZA Discussion Papers 4256, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Stefano Scarpetta: & John Haltiwanger & Eric Bartelsman:, 2007. "Cross Country Differences in Productivity: The Role of Allocative Efficiency," 2007 Meeting Papers 134, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-98 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Pedro Cavalcanti Ferreira & JosÈ Luiz Rossi, 2003. "New Evidence from Brazil on Trade Liberalization and Productivity Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1383-1405, November.
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