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The Role of the Structural Transformation in Aggregate Productivity

  • Margarida Duarte
  • Diego Restuccia

We investigate the role of sectoral differences in labor productivity and the process of structural transformation (the secular reallocation of labor across sectors) in accounting for the time path of aggregate productivity across countries. Using a simple model of the structural transformation that is calibrated to the growth experience of the United States, we measure sectoral labor productivity differences across countries. These differences are large and systematic: labor productivity differences between rich and poor countries are large in agriculture and services and smaller in manufacturing. When fed into the model, these sectoral labor productivity differences and the structural transformation they produce account for more than 50 percent of the fast catch-up in aggregate productivity observed in less developed economies and all of the stagnation and decline observed in more developed economies in recent decades.

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Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-300.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 22 Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-300
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  1. Tasso Adamopoulos & Ahmet Akyol, 2009. "Relative Underperformance Alla Turca," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(4), pages 697-717, October.
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  5. Restuccia, Diego & Yang, Dennis Tao & Zhu, Xiaodong, 2008. "Agriculture and aggregate productivity: A quantitative cross-country analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 234-250, March.
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  8. Liwa Rachel Ngai, 2000. "Barriers and the Transition to Modern Growth," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1578, Econometric Society.
  9. Douglas Gollin & Stephen Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2002. "The Role of Agriculture in Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 160-164, May.
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  12. Berthold Herrendorf & Akos Valentinyi, 2005. "Which Sectors Make the Poor Countries so Unproductive?," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0519, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  13. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
  14. Robert E. Lucas, 2000. "Some Macroeconomics for the 21st Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 159-168, Winter.
  15. Dirk Pilat, 1996. "Labour Productivity Levels in OECD Countries: Estimates for Manufacturing and Selected Service Sectors," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 169, OECD Publishing.
  16. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 1996. "The Poverty of Nations: A Quantitative Exploration," NBER Working Papers 5414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Baumol, William J, 1972. "Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 150, March.
  18. Margarida Duarte & Diego Restuccia, 2006. "The productivity of nations," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 195-223.
  19. Charles I. Jones, 1997. "On the Evolution of the World Income Distribution," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 19-36, Summer.
  20. Gollin, Douglas & Parente, Stephen L. & Rogerson, Richard, 2007. "The food problem and the evolution of international income levels," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 1230-1255, May.
  21. repec:oup:restud:v:67:y:2000:i:3:p:545-61 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Echevarria, Cristina, 1997. "Changes in Sectoral Composition Associated with Economic Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(2), pages 431-52, May.
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