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From Socialist Showcase to Mezzogiorno? Lessons on the Role of Technical Change from East Germany's Post-World War II Growth Performance

  • Wolfgang Keller

    (University of Wisconsin and NBER)

In this paper we emphasize the contribution of technical change, broadly defined, towards productivity growth in explaining the relative East Germany-West Germany performance during the post-World War II era. We argue that previous work was excessively focused on physical capital investments determining productivity differentials, which consequently led to an overestimation of the East German performance during the Socialist era, and an overly pessimistic assessment of the East German prospects of catching up with West Germany during the post-reunification era. We show, first, that the rates of technical change in the manufacturing industries of East German states were significantly below those in Western states, helping to account for the fact that East Germany was not the socialist showcase for which it was frequently taken before German reunification. Second, we demonstrate that the rates of technical change in the East German states have been considerably higher than those in the West since German reunification. This suggests that the Mezzogiorno prediction for East Germany--that it will stay persistently behind West Germany as does Italy's South relative to its North--, based on an analysis of the need for physical capital accumulation alone, will prove too pessimistic.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 9707002.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 07 Jul 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:9707002
Note: Type of Document - Latex (Scientific Word 2.0); prepared on PC; to print on HP/PostScript; pages: 28 ; figures: also downloadable from here, in a separate file
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Chamberlain, Gary, 1982. "Multivariate regression models for panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 5-46, January.
  2. Jose De Gregorio, 1991. "Economic Growth in Latin America," IMF Working Papers 91/71, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert J. Barro & N. Gregory Mankiw & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1992. "Capital Mobility in Neoclassical Models of Growth," NBER Working Papers 4206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen & Helga Hessenius, 1991. "East Germany in from the Cold: The Economic Aftermath of Currency Union," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 1-106.
  7. T. W. Swan, 1956. "ECONOMIC GROWTH and CAPITAL ACCUMULATION," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 334-361, November.
  8. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Andrea Boltho & Wendy Carlin & Pasquale Scaramozzino, 1999. "Will East Germany become a new Mezzogiorno?," Chapters, in: Economic Growth and Change, chapter 13 Edward Elgar.
  10. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-80, December.
  11. Barro, R.J. & Sala-I-Martin, X., 1991. "Convergence Across States and Regions," Papers 629, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  12. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521818551 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119, March.
  14. Burda, Michael C & Funke, Michael, 1993. "Eastern Germany: Can't We Be More Optimistic?," CEPR Discussion Papers 863, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Islam, Nazrul, 1995. "Growth Empirics: A Panel Data Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1127-70, November.
  16. Hughes Hallett, A J & Ma, Yue, 1993. "East Germany, West Germany, and Their Mezzogiorno Problem: A Parable for European Economic Integration," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(417), pages 416-28, March.
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