Jörg Mayer, 11 October 2017

Most of the current debate on the threat of robots focuses on developed countries, but robotisation clearly also concerns developing countries. This column examines whether robots will reduce the familiar benefits of industrialisation as a development strategy. It argues that robots are not yet suitable for a range of labour-intensive industries, leaving the door open for developing countries to enter industrialisation processes along traditional lines. At the same time, it suggests ways that developing countries should embrace the digital revolution.

Antonin Bergeaud, Gilbert Cette, Rémy Lecat, 04 September 2017

Over the 20th century, GDP growth was mainly driven by total factor productivity growth. Since the mid-2000s, however, productivity growth has been in decline. This column explores the history and future of growth focusing on four developed economies: the US, the Eurozone, the UK, and Japan. Simulated scenarios for the 21st century show a wide range of potential growth outcomes, dependent on whether total factor productivity growth stays indefinitely low, and whether the digital economy delivers a new productivity growth wave.

Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Gemma Estrada, Shu Tian, 19 July 2017

The impact of the Global Crisis of 2008 played out differently in middle-income countries compared to developed countries. This column argues that the associations of growth level, growth volatility, shocks, institutions, and macroeconomic fundamentals have changed in important ways after the crisis. Educational attainment, share of manufacturing output in GDP, and exchange rate stability appear to increase the level of economic growth. Exchange rate flexibility, education attainment, and lack of political polarisation reduce the volatility of economic growth.

Stephen Broadberry, John Joseph Wallis, 05 July 2017

Most analysis of long-run economic performance abstracts from short-run fluctuations and seeks to explain improved performance through an increase in the rate of growth. Using data on annual rates of change of per capita income reaching back to the 13th century for some countries, this column show that improved long-run performance has actually occurred primarily through a decline in the rate and frequency of shrinking. Structural change, technological change, demographic change and the changing incidence of warfare offer at best a partial explanation; a full understanding requires a consideration of institutional change.

Ejaz Ghani, Stephen O'Connell, 15 June 2017

There are concerns that the premature deindustrialisation experienced by low-income countries in Africa and South Asia will negatively affect their growth. This column argues that this is not the case, since services, rather than manufacturing, are driving growth in the developing world. While demographics and urbanisation can help growth in low-income countries, the low quality of physical infrastructure is a major challenge.

Charles R. Hulten, Leonard Nakamura, 02 June 2017

Conventional growth theory characterises innovation as ‘resource-saving’, in the sense that it allows the same output to be produced with fewer resources. This column introduces a sources-of-welfare growth model that also includes a measure of ‘output-saving’ innovation, which arises from the expanded scope and efficiency in consumer choice recently brought about by the Internet economy and smartphones. The findings highlight how various new kinds of intangible capital complicate the measurement of GDP.

Sebastian Galiani, Stephen Knack, Lixin Colin Xu, Ben Zou, 27 April 2016

Rachel Heath, Mushfiq Mobarak, 03 August 2015

M. Ayhan Kose, Franziska Ohnsorge, Lei (Sandy) Ye, 24 April 2017

Investment growth in emerging market and developing economies has slowed sharply since 2010. This column argues that this slowdown reflects a range of factors, including negative terms-of-trade shocks, slowing FDI inflows, weak activity, and rising private debt burdens and political risk. Policymakers can boost investment directly through public investment, and indirectly by taking measures to improve overall growth prospects and the business climate.

Christopher House, Christian Proebsting, Linda Tesar, 11 April 2017

Austerity policies implemented during the Great Recession have been blamed for the slow recovery in several European countries. Using data from 29 advanced economies, this column shows that austerity policies negatively affect economic performance by reducing GDP, inflation, consumption, and investment. It also warns that efforts to reduce debt through austerity in the depths of the economic recession were counterproductive.

Aida Caldera, Alain de Serres, Filippo Gori, Oliver Röhn, 28 March 2017

Severe recessions have been frequent among OECD countries over the past four decades. This column explores the implications of various broad types of policy to minimise the risk and frequency of such episodes for the trade-off for the growth-fragility nexus. Product and labour market policies improve growth but are essentially neutral with regards to economic risks, while better quality institutions increase both growth and economic stability. Macroprudential and financial market policies, on the other hand, entail a trade-off between growth and risk.

Gustavo A. Marrero, Juan Gabriel Rodríguez, Roy Van der Weide, 08 February 2017

Inequality can be both good and bad for growth. Unequal societies may be holding back one segment of the population while helping another. This column exploits US data to argue that inequality affects negatively the future income growth of the poor and positively that of the rich. This relationship is largely driven by inequality of opportunity, which limits the growth prospects at the bottom of the income distribution.  

Thorvaldur Gylfason, Per Wijkman, 06 February 2017

There is a cross-country relationship between economic performance and both economic and political diversification. This column presents global evidence that between 1962 and 2012, both types of diversification were closely related to economic performance. This period included the spread of democracy, the global liberalisation of trade, and the termination of the Cold War. The recent retreat of democracy, the popular reaction to trade liberalisation in key countries, and a new cold war appear likely to reduce economic efficiency and growth. 

Eilyn Yee Lin Chong, Ashoka Mody, Francisco Varela Sandoval, 17 January 2017

Recent research suggests a point beyond which the benefits of financial development diminish, and further development can even hurt growth. This column describes how a negative relationship between credit and growth emerged strongly after 1990 and was particularly pronounced in the Eurozone, consistent with the notion that an overgrown financial sector weakens economic growth potential. It also argues that slower growth leads to more rapid financial sector expansion. Policymakers need to be aware of the possibility that causality runs in both directions.

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.

Julián Caballero, Andrés Fernández, Jongho Park, 19 December 2016

Emerging economies are substantially reliant on foreign corporate debt issuance, which has major macroeconomic implications. This column quantifies the extent to which debt issuance matters for macroeconomic performance in emerging economies, and how much macro vulnerability it has entailed. It finds evidence that a large increase in debt reliance has had a considerable effect on macroeconomic performance, but suggests that potential negative impacts on overall health of economies can be reduced in the future if policymakers have access to more and better information.

Danny Leipziger, 08 December 2016

Despite lifting millions out of poverty, globalisation is facing growing political opposition. This column surveys the successes and failures of globalisation, and some of the critical policy implications. Globalisation has reached a stage where its benefits have been captured but its costs have been largely ignored. Going forward, governments need to address inequality and social inclusion, boost global investment, and restore confidence.

Federica Coelli, Andreas Moxnes, Karen-Helene Ulltveit-Moe, 21 November 2016

Free trade is under fire, with evidence documenting the distributional impacts and labour adjustment costs of trade liberalisation mounting. This column instead presents new evidence on the benefits of freer trade in terms of growth and innovation. It points to gains that could be lost if support for globalisation is not maintained.

Vincenzo Bove, Leandro Elia, 16 November 2016

There is much dispute over whether immigration is beneficial or detrimental to the host country, and any conclusions are often event-driven rather than evidence-based. This column explores evidence on how immigration affected economic development between 1960 and 2013 through its effect on the cultural and ethnic composition of the destination country. Cultural heterogeneity appears to have had a positive impact on economic development, and the positive effect of diversity seems to have been stronger in developing countries.

Anna Valero, John Van Reenen, 10 November 2016

Growth in higher education has been driven by the view that human capital is essential for economic and social progress. This column uses a comprehensive international dataset covering 78 countries to show that on average, a 10% increase in the number of universities (roughly adding one more university to the average region in the data) increases a region’s income by 0.4%, with additional effects spilling over to other regions within the same country. In the UK context, the benefits of university expansion are likely to far outweigh the costs.

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