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Capital Mobility in Neoclassical Models of Growth

  • Robert J. Barro
  • N. Gregory Mankiw
  • Xavier Sala-i-Martin

The empirical evidence reveals conditional convergence in the sense that economies grow faster per capita if they start further below their steady-state positions. For a homogeneous group of economies - like the U.S. states, regions of western European countries, and the GECD countries - the convergence is unconditional in that the poor economies grow faster than the rich ones. The neoclassical growth model for a closed economy fits these facts if capital is viewed broadly to encompass human investments, so that diminishing returns to capital set in slowly, and if differences in government policies or preferences about saving lead to heterogeneity in steady-state positions. Yet if the model is opened to allow for full capital mobility, then the predicted rates of convergence for capital and output are much higher than those observed empirically. We show that the open-economy model conforms with the evidence if an economy can use foreign debt to finance only a portion of its capital, even if 50% or more of the total. The problems in using human capital as collateral can explain the required imperfection in the credit market.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4206.

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Date of creation: Nov 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as The American Economic Review, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 103-115, (March 1995).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4206
Note: EFG
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  1. Barro, R.J. & Sala-i-Martin, X., 1991. "Regional Growth and Migration: a Japan - U.S. Comparaison," Papers 650, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  2. Mulligan, C.B. & Sala-i-Martin, X., 1992. "Transitional Dynamics in Two-Sector Models of Endogenous Growth," Papers 651, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  3. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1963. "On the Concept of Optimal Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 163, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Susan M. Collins & Won-Am Park, 1989. "External Debt and Macroeconomic Performance in South Korea," NBER Chapters, in: Developing Country Debt and the World Economy, pages 121-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1991. "Convergence across States and Regions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 107-182.
  6. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1991. "A sensitivity analysis of cross-country growth regressions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 609, The World Bank.
  7. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Cohen, Daniel & Sachs, Jeffrey, 1986. "Growth and external debt under risk of debt repudiation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 529-560, June.
  9. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  10. Feldstein, Martin & Horioka, Charles, 1980. "Domestic Saving and International Capital Flows," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 314-29, June.
  11. Sergio Rebelo, 1999. "Long Run Policy Analysis and Long Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2114, David K. Levine.
  12. Paul M. Romer, 1987. "Crazy Explanations for the Productivity Slowdown," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 163-210 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  14. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-51, April.
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