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Financial development and economic growth : views and agenda

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  • Levine, Ross

Abstract

The author argues that the preponderance of theoretical reasoning and empirical evidence suggests a positive first order relationship between financial development and economic growth. There is evidence that the financial development level is a good predictor of future rates of economic growth, capital accumulation, and technological change. Moreover, cross-country, case-style, industry level and firm-level analysis document extensive periods when financial development crucially affects the speed and pattern of economic development. The author explains what the financial system does and how it affects, and is affected by, economic growth. Theory suggests that financial instruments, markets and institutions arise to mitigate the effects of information and transaction costs. A growing literature shows that differences in how well financial systems reduce information and transaction costs influence savings rates, investment decisions, technological innovation, and long-run growth rates. A less developed theoretical literature shows how changes in economic activity can influence financial systems. The author advocates a functional approach to understanding the role of financial systems in economic growth. This approach focuses on the ties between growth and the quality of the functions provided by the financial systems. The author discourages a narrow focus on one financial instrument, or a particular institution. Instead, the author addresses the more comprehensive question: What is the relationship between financial structure and the functioning of the financial system?

Suggested Citation

  • Levine, Ross, 1996. "Financial development and economic growth : views and agenda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1678, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1678
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