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Openness, Specialization, and Productivity Growth in Less Developed Countries

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  • Diana Weinhold
  • James Rauch

Abstract

Many empirical studies have found a positive relationship between openness and growth in per capita GDP in less developed countries, and economists have produced many explanations for this correlation. However, the existing studies are consistent with all of these theories and thus do not provide direct evidence in support of any one of them. Quah and Rauch [18] show how increased openness to international trade can lead to increased specialization in models of endogenous growth through learning by doing. These models imply that increased specialization accelerates productivity growth by more fully realizing dynamic economies of scale. In order to test the hypothesis that specialization increases productivity growth in LDCs we first define a Herfindahl index of production specialization for the manufacturing sector in 39 countries. We then present a series of dynamic panel regressions controlling for country fixed effects which show that, for the less developed countries, the index of specialization is positively and significantly correlated with manufacturing productivity growth. We test the robustness of this correlation by including different variables that have been associated with growth in the regressions, such as openness, inflation, government spending, and investment.

Suggested Citation

  • Diana Weinhold & James Rauch, 1997. "Openness, Specialization, and Productivity Growth in Less Developed Countries," NBER Working Papers 6131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6131
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edwards, Sebastian, 1992. "Trade orientation, distortions and growth in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 31-57, July.
    2. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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