Absolute and Conditional Convergence: Its Speed for Selected Countries for 1961--2001
The study gives the theoretical justification for the per capita growth equations using Solovian model(1956) and its factor accumulation assumptions. The different forms of the per capita growth equation is used to test for 'absolute convergence' and 'conditional convergence' hypotheses and also work out the speed of absolute and conditional convergence for selected countries from 1961-2001.We use cross sectional data of GDP per capita levels and growth rates of European countries EU16(EU15 +United Kingdom), South Asian Countries (5), some East Asian (8) and CIS Countries (15) to test for 'absolute convergence' hypothesis for four different periods 1961-2001,1970-2001,1980-2001,1990-2001.Only EU and East Asian countries together have shown uniform evidence of absolute convergence in all periods. While EU as a region has shown significant evidence of absolute convergence in two periods, 1961-2001 and 1970-2001, there is no convincing statistical evidence in favor of absolute convergence in the last two periods: 1980-2001 and 1990- 2001.This latter evidence with declining rate of economic growth for EU since 1961 points to a challenge for designing EUs regional policies which also have to cope up with many East European and Baltic nations who joined EU recently. The speed of absolute convergence in the four periods range between 0.99-2.56 % p.a. (2% for the EU was worked out by Barro and Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995, for European regions) for EU while it ranges between 0.57-1.16 % p.a. for the countries in East Asia and EU regions together. However, there is no evidence of convergence among the South Asian countries in all periods and some major CIS republics since 1966.There is however tendency for absolute convergence among countries of South Asia, East Asia and European Union together particularly after the 1980s. Conditional convergence is prevalent among almost all pairs of regions in our sample except East Asian and South Asian nations together.Speed of conditional convergence ranges from 0.2 % in an year to 22%.In the European nations, the speed of conditional convergence works out be nearly 20 % unlike the speed of absolute convergence which hovered around 2 %.Such results would mean that countries in Europe are converging very quickly to their own potential level of incomes per capita but not so quickly to a common potential level of income per capita.The elasticity of output which is also estimated ranges from 0.54 to 0.91 implying that capital is to be interpreted as broad capital inclusive of human capital stock.It seems that human capital not only affects technological progress but affects output levels directly by increasing capital stock levels implying that the assumption of including human capital stock in the production function were appropriate in Mankiw,Romer and Weil(1992). The results for the speed of conditional convergence favors use of an extended Solovian model inclusive of human capital.Conditional beta convergence seems to be a better empirical exercise(as evident from our theoretical model and empirical results ) because it reflects the convergence of countries after we control for differences in steady states .Conditional convergence is simply a confirmation of a result predicted by the neoclassical growth model:that countries with similar steady states exhibit convergence.It does not mean that all countries in the world are converging to the same steady state,only that they are converging to their own steady states
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