IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Relative returns to policy reform - evidence from controlled cross-country regressions


  • de Castro Alxandre Samy
  • Goldin, Ian
  • Pereira da Silva, Luiz A.


The authors aim at contributing to understand the dispersion of returns from policy reforms using cross-country regressions. The authors compare the"before reform"with"after reform"GDP growth outcome of countries that undertook import-liberalization and fiscal policy reforms. They survey a large sample (about 54) of developing countries over the period 1980-99. The benefits of openness to trade and fiscal prudence have been extensively identified in the growth literature, but the evidence from simple cross-section analysis can sometimes be inconclusive and remains vulnerable to criticism on estimation techniques, such as identification, endogeneity, multi-colinearity, and the quality of the data. The authors use a different analytical framework that establishes additional controls. First, they construct a counterfactual control group. These are countries that-under specific thresholds-did not introduce policy reforms under scrutiny. Second, the authors also try to use the most appropriate variable of policy reform, for example, exogenous changes in import-tariffs instead of the endogenous sum of all trade flows. Third, the authors try to base the before-after reform comparison on the most accurate date for the beginning of a policy reform period (instead of comparing averages over fixed intervals of time). Once these controls are set, they explain the difference between average GDP growth rates during the country-specific post and the pre-reform periods, relative to the average GDP growth of the relevant control group. The explanatory variables in the regressions include the standard growth-regression controls. The results are the following: 1) With a better measurement and timing of the policy reforms, the growth effect (the"returns on reform") is generally smaller than in previous papers. 2) There is evidence of contingent relationships between policy and growth, corresponding to the country's size, its export profile, and its governance. 2) Within the group of policy reformers, some countries have exhibited a relatively weaker growth response. Overall, the findings suggest that more accurate measurement and definition of the timing of reforms does not strengthen the significance of the effects of reforms on GDP growth. In fact, the effects are weaker than indicated in most cross-section studies. This suggests that the policy implications to be derived from these relationships should be treated with even more caution than previously thought.

Suggested Citation

  • de Castro Alxandre Samy & Goldin, Ian & Pereira da Silva, Luiz A., 2002. "Relative returns to policy reform - evidence from controlled cross-country regressions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2898, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2898

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eric M. Engen & Jonathan Skinner, 1992. "Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4223, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Rodrik, Dani, 1999. "Where Did All the Growth Go? External Shocks, Social Conflict, and Growth Collapses," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 385-412, December.
    3. Carmen M. Reinhart & Ioannis Tokatlidis, 2003. "Financial Liberalisation: The African Experience," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(Supplemen), pages 53-88, September.
    4. Harrison, Ann, 1996. "Openness and growth: A time-series, cross-country analysis for developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 419-447, March.
    5. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 103-126, October.
    6. Foroutan, Faezeh, 1998. "Does membership in a regional preferential trade arrangement make a country more or less protectionist?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1898, The World Bank.
    7. Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Fiscal policy and economic growth: An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 417-458, December.
    8. Wacziarg, Romain, 1998. "Measuring the dynamic gains from trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2001, The World Bank.
    9. Philip R. Gerson, 1998. "The Impact of Fiscal Policy Variables on Output Growth," IMF Working Papers 98/1, International Monetary Fund.
    10. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    11. Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to Cross-National Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Dan Ben-David, 1993. "Equalizing Exchange: Trade Liberalization and Income Convergence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 653-679.
    13. Faezeh Foroutan, 1998. "Does Membership in a Regional Preferential Trade Arrangement Make a Country More or Less Protectionist?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(3), pages 305-335, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Jalilian, Hossein & Kirkpatrick, Colin & Parker, David, 2003. "Creating the Conditions for International Business Expansion: The Impact of Regulation on Economic Growth in Developing Countries - A Cross-Country Analysis," Centre on Regulation and Competition (CRC) Working papers 30689, University of Manchester, Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM).


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2898. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.