Harald Fadinger, Christian Ghiglino, Mariya Teteryatnikova, 24 December 2016

Economists are just starting to understand how observed input-output linkages and productivity differences are connected. This column investigates how differences in the distribution of sectoral input-output multipliers interact with sectoral productivities to determine cross-country differences in aggregate income. It finds that the impact of the linkages on productivity are substantial, which in turn has significant implications for policy.

Rick van der Ploeg, 24 December 2016

Policy advice for countries managing oil and gas windfalls is typically to smooth consumption boosts by borrowing on international capital markets pre-windfall, repaying the debt and accumulating assets in a sovereign wealth fund during the windfall, and withdrawing from that fund when the windfall ends. This column outlines various reasons why this approach can be disastrous for developing countries, and also considers the best response to a commodity price crash.

Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 21 December 2016

A new set of historical national accounts for Spain constructs estimates of output and expenditure from 1850 onwards, which means we can estimate the evolution of GDP per capita and labour productivity during this period. This column argues that the data demonstrates that GDP per capita captures long-run trends in welfare in Spain, but not short and medium run trends.

Christopher Blattman, Stefan Dercon, 20 December 2016

African countries are scrambling to bring industrial firms into the continent, and workers face a choice between industrial jobs and self-employment. This column reports the results of a randomised controlled trial of 1,000 job applicants in Ethiopia, which suggests that industrial workers earned no more in a year than those given training as entrepreneurs, and had higher disability rates. Two-thirds of industrial workers chose to quit, suggesting that low wages and poor working conditions are a concern for policymakers who promote industrialisation.

Rabah Arezki, Rick van der Ploeg, Frederik Toscani, 15 December 2016

Global natural wealth has shifted from North to South over the past decades, with discoveries of major oil and gas fields and mineral deposits first in Latin America and more recently in Sub-Saharan Africa. This column argues that a more outward market orientation on the part of developing countries has been the key driving force behind this shift – over and above other forces such as the increase in emerging markets’ demand and/or developed countries running out of natural resources.

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