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Development, Structure, and Transformation: Some Evidence on Comparative Economic Growth

  • Gordon C. McCord
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs
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    We suggest that the geographical patterns of income differences across the world have deep underpinnings. We emphasize that economic development is a complex process driven by economic, political, social, and biophysical forces. Some economists have argued that the patterns reflect mainly the historical footprint of colonial rule and political evolution, and that geography's effects on development occurred exclusively through its effects on this historical institutional development. We believe that economic development has also been shaped very importantly by the biophysical and geophysical characteristics of economies. Per capita incomes differ around the world in no small part because of sharp differences across regions in the natural resource base and physical geography (e.g. distance to coast), and by the amplification of those differences through the dynamics of saving and investment. We posit that the drivers of economic development include institutions, technology, and geography, and that none of these alone is sufficient to account for the diverse patterns of global growth. We survey the relevant literature, and empirically show that a multi-causal framework helps to explain when countries achieve middle income; the distribution of economic activity around the world today; the patterns of growth between 1960 and 2010; the patterns of income per person within large economies; and the structural characteristics of the remaining countries still stuck in poverty today.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19512.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19512.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19512
    Note: DEV
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    1. Rodrik, Dani & Subramanian, Arvind & Trebbi, Francesco, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 3643, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Robert J. Barro, 2012. "Convergence and Modernization Revisited," NBER Working Papers 18295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2012. "The European Origins of Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 18162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," Working Papers 15, Center for Global Development.
    5. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2003. "Institutions Don't Rule: Direct Effects of Geography on Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 9490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Patzek, Tadeusz W. & Croft, Gregory D., 2010. "A global coal production forecast with multi-Hubbert cycle analysis," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 3109-3122.
    8. David Y. Albouy, 2012. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 3059-76, October.
    9. Kai Carstensen & Erich Gundlach, 2006. "The Primacy of Institutions Reconsidered: Direct Income Effects of Malaria Prevalence," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 20(3), pages 309-339.
    10. Carstensen, Kai & Gundlach, Erich, 2006. "The primacy of institutions reconsidered: Direct income effects of malaria prevalence," Munich Reprints in Economics 19929, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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