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Convergence Revisited

  • Charles I. Jones

September 26, 1996 -- Version 4.00 The recent literature on convergence has departed from the earlier literature by focusing on the shape of the production function and the rate at which an economy converges to its own steady state. This paper uses advances from the recent literature to look back at the question that originally motivated the convergence literature: what will the steady state distribution of per capita income look like? Several results are highlighted by the analysis. First, ignoring changes in technology levels over time, the long-run distribution is likely to be broadly similar to the 1990 distribution; the main exception is at the top of the distribution, where a number of NICs and industrialized countries continue to catch up to or even overtake the U.S. Second, differences in total factor productivity levels across economies are substantial---roughly the same magnitude as differences in per capita incomes. Third, TFP convergence would result in substantial changes in the income distribution. Finally, there is little reason to expect that the U.S. will maintain its position as world leader in terms of output per worker.

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 96006.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:stanec:96006
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  1. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 1994. "International Patenting and Technology Diffusion," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 50, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  2. Paul Evans, 1997. "How Fast Do Economies Converge?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 219-225, May.
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  8. Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Where has all the education gone?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1581, The World Bank.
  9. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
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  12. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, . "The Productivity of Nations," Working Papers 96012, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  13. Bernard, Andrew B & Jones, Charles I, 1996. "Comparing Apples to Oranges: Productivity Convergence and Measurement across Industries and Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1216-38, December.
  14. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
  15. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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  17. Alwyn Young, 1992. "A Tale of Two Cities: Factor Accumulation and Technical Change in Hong Kong and Singapore," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1992, Volume 7, pages 13-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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