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The middle-income trap - definitions, theories and countries concerned: a literature survey

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  • Glawe, Linda
  • Wagner, Helmut

Abstract

In recent years, a growing body of economic literature has focused on the phenomenon of the so-called middle-income trap (MIT). The term usually refers to countries that have experienced rapid growth and thus quickly reached middle-income status, but then failed to overcome that income range to further catch up to the developed countries. This paper surveys the MIT literature. It begins by laying out different approaches to defining the MIT (with a focus on the distinction between absolute and relative approaches) and by presenting as well as classifying the most important empirical studies. After a short overview of the currently identified MIT countries, the article summarizes the main explanatory approaches, taking into account both the theoretical foundations and the empirically identified triggering factors.

Suggested Citation

  • Glawe, Linda & Wagner, Helmut, 2016. "The middle-income trap - definitions, theories and countries concerned: a literature survey," MPRA Paper 71196, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:71196
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barry Eichengreen & Donghyun Park & Kwanho Shin, 2012. "When Fast-Growing Economies Slow Down: International Evidence and Implications for China," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 11(1), pages 42-87, Winter/Sp.
    2. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth through Creative Destruction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 323-351, March.
    3. Pierre-Richard Agénor & Otaviano Canuto & Michael Jelenic, 2012. "Avoiding Middle-Income Growth Traps," World Bank - Economic Premise, The World Bank, issue 98, pages 1-7, November.
    4. Reda Cherif & Fuad Hasanov, 2015. "The Leap of the Tiger; How Malaysia Can Escape the Middle-Income Trap," IMF Working Papers 15/131, International Monetary Fund.
    5. repec:taf:rjapxx:v:22:y:2017:i:3:p:429-453 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Helmut Wagner, 2013. "Challenges to China’s Policy: Structural Change," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 55(4), pages 721-736, December.
    7. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 37-74, March.
    8. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1997. "Technological Diffusion, Convergence, and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-26, March.
    9. Indermit Gill & Homi Kharas, 2007. "An East Asian Renaissance : Ideas for Economic Growth," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6798.
    10. Felipe, Jesus & Kumar, Utsav & Galope, Reynold, 2014. "Middle-Income Transitions: Trap or Myth?," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 421, Asian Development Bank.
    11. Helmut Wagner, 2015. "Structural Change and Mid-Income Trap – Under which conditions can China succeed in moving towards higher income status?," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 12(2), pages 165-188, December.
    12. Eichengreen, Barry & Park, Donghyun & Shin, Kwanho, 2014. "Growth slowdowns redux," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 65-84.
    13. Flaaen, Aaron & Ghani, Ejaz & Mishra, Saurabh, 2013. "How to avoid middle income traps ? evidence from Malaysia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6427, The World Bank.
    14. Masahiko Aoki, 2011. "The Five-Phases of Economic Development and Institutional Evolution in China and Japan," Development Economics Working Papers 23196, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    15. Glawe, Linda & Wagner, Helmut, 2016. "China in the Middle-Income Trap?," MPRA Paper 73336, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Homi Kharas & Harinder Kohli, 2011. "What Is the Middle Income Trap, Why do Countries Fall into It, and How Can It Be Avoided?," Global Journal of Emerging Market Economies, Emerging Markets Forum, vol. 3(3), pages 281-289, September.
    17. Felipe, Jesus, 2012. "Tracking the Middle-Income Trap: What is It, Who is in It, and Why? Part 2," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 307, Asian Development Bank.
    18. Fang Cai, 2012. "Is There a “Middle‐income Trap”? Theories, Experiences and Relevance to China," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 20(1), pages 49-61, January.
    19. Felipe, Jesus, 2012. "Tracking the Middle-Income Trap: What is It, Who is in It, and Why? Part 1," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 306, Asian Development Bank.
    20. Bulman, David & Eden, Maya & Nguyen, Ha, 2014. "Transitioning from low-income growth to high-income growth : is there a middle income trap ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7104, The World Bank.
    21. Jimenez, Emmanuel & Nguyen, Vy & Patrinos, Harry Anthony, 2012. "Stuck in the middle ? human capital development and economic growth in Malaysia and Thailand," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6283, The World Bank.
    22. Agénor, Pierre-Richard & Canuto, Otaviano, 2015. "Middle-income growth traps," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 641-660.
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    Cited by:

    1. Glawe, Linda & Wagner, Helmut, 2016. "China in the Middle-Income Trap?," MPRA Paper 73336, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. repec:kap:iecepo:v:14:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10368-016-0360-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Cyn-Young Park & Rogelio Mercado Jr., 2017. "Economic Convergence, Capital Accumulation, and Income Traps: Empirical Evidence," Trinity Economics Papers tep1117, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    middle-income trap; middle-income countries; economic growth; economic development; growth slowdowns; catching up;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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