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Local Versus Global Convergence Across National Economies

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  • Steven N. Durlauf
  • Paul A. Johnson

Abstract

This paper reexamines the ability of the Solow-type growth models to explain the pattern of cross-country growth rates. Recent authors, most notably Mankiw, Romer and Weil [1990], have argued that differences in national growth rates are compatible with the view that each country has access to a common, neoclassical aggregate production function. Such models imply that, conditional on population growth and savings rates, disparate economies are converging over time to the same level of per capita output. We argue that cross-country growth is better explained by a model of local versus global convergence. Countries converge locally in the sense that economies with similar initial conditions tend to converge to one another. However, we find little evidence of convergence across economies with substantially different initial conditions as measured by per capita output or literacy rates. Further, the impact of capital formation on aggregate output increases with the level of economic development. These results are consistent with models of multiple equilibria in long run behavior. Our results suggest that the Solow growth model should be supplemented with a theory of aggregate production function differences in order to fully explain international growth patterns.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven N. Durlauf & Paul A. Johnson, 1992. "Local Versus Global Convergence Across National Economies," NBER Working Papers 3996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3996 Note: EFG
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. repec:fth:harver:1532 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Bernard, Andrew B. & Durlauf, Steven N., 1996. "Interpreting tests of the convergence hypothesis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1-2), pages 161-173.
    4. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    5. 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.
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    8. De Long, J Bradford, 1988. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1138-1154, December.
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    11. Baumol, William J., 1985. "Productivity Growth, Convergence and Welfare: What the Long Run Data Show," Working Papers 85-27, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    12. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-1085, December.
    13. Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1988. "A New Set of International Comparisons of Real Product and Price Levels Estimates for 130 Countries, 1950-1985," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, March.
    14. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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