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The Remarkable Durability of Thirlwall’s Law


  • Mark Setterfield

    () (Department of Economics, Trinity College)


This paper contemplates the robustness of Thirlwall’s Law, a parsimonious expression that relates long run equilibrium growth in any one region to the product of world income growth and the ratio of the income elasticities of demand for exports and imports. Various extensions of the balance-of-payments-constrained growth model from which Thirlwall’s Law is derived are contemplated. In each case, Thirlwall’s Law is shown to reassert itself as a good approximation of the equilibrium growth rate. It is hypothesized that this robustness helps explain the widespread empirical success of Thirlwall’s Law.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Setterfield, 2011. "The Remarkable Durability of Thirlwall’s Law," Working Papers 1105, Trinity College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tri:wpaper:1105

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Miguel A. LeÛn-Ledesma & A. P. Thirlwall, 2002. "The endogeneity of the natural rate of growth," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(4), pages 441-459, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sergio Parrinello, 2014. "A search for distinctive features of demand-led growth models," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 67(270), pages 309-342.
    2. Araujo, Ricardo Azevedo, 2013. "Cumulative causation in a structural economic dynamic approach to economic growth and uneven development," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 130-140.
    3. Mark Setterfield & Selen Ozcelik, 2017. "Is the balance of payments constrained growth rate time-varying? Exchange rate over valuation, policy-induced recessions, deindustrialization, and long run growth," Working Papers 1726, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.
    4. Porcile, Gabriel & Sartorello Spinola, Danilo, 2018. "Natural, effective and BOP-constrained rates of growth: Adjustment mechanisms and closure equations," MERIT Working Papers 003, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    5. repec:tei:journl:v:10:y:2017:i:3:p:80-89 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Hein, Eckhard, 2016. "Post-Keynesian macroeconomics since the mid-1990s: Main developments," IPE Working Papers 75/2016, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    7. Peter Leško & Elias Soukiazis & Eva Muchova, 2016. "Are the transition economies balance-of-payments constrained? An aggregate and multi-sector approach applied to Central and Eastern Europe," GEMF Working Papers 2016-04, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    8. repec:psl:pslqrr:2017:13 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Elena Spasova, 2016. "Balance-of-payments constraints on Bulgarian economic growth," Economic Thought journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 2, pages 90-108.
    10. Marconi, Nelson & Reis, Cristina Fróes de Borja & Araújo, Eliane Cristina de, 2016. "Manufacturing and economic development: The actuality of Kaldor's first and second laws," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 75-89.
    11. Leon Podkaminer, 2017. "“Thirlwall’s Law” reconsidered," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 44(1), pages 29-57, February.

    More about this item


    Thirlwall’s law; balance-of-payments-constrained growth; export-led growth; demand-led growth; natural rate of growth.;

    JEL classification:

    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian

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