Tomoya Mori, 11 August 2019

The growth of large cities is often attributed to their proximity to exogenous, first-nature advantages. This column uses data on 450 Japanese cities to show that in fact, the regularity of agglomeration holds as a natural consequence of endogenous agglomeration and dispersion forces at the global or local level, rather than exogenous factors.

Jakob Brøchner Madsen, Peter Robertson, Longfeng Ye, 14 July 2019

The econometric evidence for the Malthusian trap in pre-industrial Europe has been weak. The column presents a new Malthusian model that, combined with new historical data for 17 countries, provides evidence of a much stronger Malthusian trap than the one found by previous research. This helps to explain the economic stagnation from the dark ages to the industrial revolution.

Rabah Arezki, Rachel Yuting Fan, Ha Nguyen, 29 June 2019

The debate on the middle-income trap has largely focused on East Asia and Pacific countries, but the countries of Middle East and North Africa have significantly lower growth, which drops at an earlier level of income. The column argues that one factor is MENA's slow adoption of general purpose technologies. Barriers to the adoption of such technologies in key sectors could be an important transmission channel for the middle-income trap.

Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, 16 June 2019

The 'Asian miracles' and their industrial policies are often considered as statistical accidents that cannot be replicated. The column argues that we can learn more about sustained growth from these miracles than from the large pool of failures, and that industrial policy is instrumental in achieving sustained growth. Successful policy uses state intervention for early entry into sophisticated sectors, strong export orientation, and fierce competition with strict accountability.

Marcela Eslava, John Haltiwanger, Alvaro Pinzón, 09 June 2019

A key difference between more and less developed countries lies in the speed at which the average business grows over its life cycle. This column compares manufacturing firms in Colombia and the US, and concludes that average life cycle growth differences across countries with diverging income levels are largely driven by the superstars and the worst performers. Relative to the US, Colombia presents an overwhelming prevalence of microestablishments, a deficit of superstar plants, and less strict market selection pressure for underperforming plants.

Jan Hagemejer, Jakub Mućk, 29 May 2019

Fragmentation of production has made it difficult to assess the contribution of exports to economic growth. This column decomposes growth into value added absorbed at home and that exported. Empirical results show that economic growth in Central and East European countries after 1995 was mainly driven by exports. The pace of convergence in Europe for exported value added was around four times faster than for domestic value added.

Markus Eberhardt, 28 April 2019

Recent evidence suggests that a country switching to democracy achieves about 20% higher per capita GDP over subsequent decades. This column demonstrates the sensitivity of these findings to sample selection and presents an implementation which generalises the empirical approach. If we assume that the democracy–growth nexus can differ across countries and may be distorted by common shocks or network effects, the average long-run effect of democracy falls to 10%.  

Paul Johnson, Chris Papageorgiou, 16 April 2019

The recent wave of growth in several developing economies has led to many analysts to claim that poorer countries are catching up with advanced economies. This column argues that, with the exception of a few countries in Asia which exhibited transformational growth, most of the economic achievements in developing economies have been the result of removing inefficiencies which are merely one-off level effects. While these effects are not unimportant and are necessary in the process of development, they do not imply ongoing economic growth.

Shekhar Aiyar, Christian Ebeke, 03 April 2019

There are contrasting theories on the relationship between income inequality and growth, and the empirical evidence is similarly mixed. This column highlights the neglected role of equality of opportunity in mediating this relationship.  Using the World Bank’s new Global Database on Intergenerational Mobility, it shows that in societies where opportunities are unequally distributed, income inequality exerts a greater drag on growth. 

Yashaswini Dunga, Nancy Hardie, Stephanie Kelly, Jeremy Lawson, 25 March 2019

As climate change worsens and the forces of populism gather, there is a strong argument for moving beyond narrow economic measures of national progress. This column presents a new indicator of progress that integrates environmental, social, and governance factors into growth analysis. Results show that the countries that have been able to blend economic dynamism with environmental, social, and governance dynamism are mostly developing economies. These countries often fly under the radar of traditional macroeconomic analyses. 

Martin Guzman, José Antonio Ocampo, Joseph Stiglitz, 21 February 2019

The role of exchange rate policies in economic development is still largely debated. This column argues that there are theoretical foundations for policies that guarantee competitive and stable real exchange rates. When there are constraints on the available set of policy instruments, the complementary use of competitive exchange rates with export taxes for traditional export sectors would result in effectively multiple real exchange rates. The empirical evidence suggests that both foreign exchange interventions and capital account regulations can be effectively used for maintaining competitive exchange rates and for dampening the effects of boom-bust cycles in external financing and the terms of trade on the exchange rate, thereby promoting growth and stability.

Sriram Balasubramanian, 17 February 2019

There has been considerable criticism of the general reliance on GDP as an indicator of growth and development. One strand of criticism focuses on the inability of GDP to capture the subjective well-being or happiness of a populace. This column examines new growth models, paying particular attention to Bhutan, which has pursued gross national happiness, rather than GDP, since the 1970s. It finds evidence of the Easterlin paradox in Bhutan, and draws out lessons for macroeconomic growth models. 

Oya Celasun, Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, Maurice Obstfeld, 24 December 2018

Branko Milanovic, 20 December 2018

Meghana Ayyagari, Thorsten Beck, Maria Soledad Martinez Peria, 11 December 2018

Macroprudential tools have been implemented widely following the Global Crisis. Using data from 900,000 firms in 49 countries, this column finds that such policies are associated with lower credit growth during the period 2003-2011. The effects are especially significant for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and young firms that are more financially constrained and bank dependent. The results imply a trade-off between financial stability and inclusion.

Marco Del Negro, Domenico Giannone, Marc Giannoni, Andrea Tambalotti, 12 November 2018

Interest rates are at their lowest levels of the last 150 years in virtually all advanced economies. This column argues that this unprecedented environment reflects secular global forces that have lowered the trend in the world real interest rate by about two percentage points over the past 30 to 40 years. Whatever forces might lift real interest rates in the future must also be global, such as a sustained pickup in world economic growth, or a better alignment between the global demand and supply for safe and liquid assets.

Marco Buti, Björn Döhring, 08 November 2018

GDP growth has become more uneven globally, and has shifted into a lower gear in Europe. So it is unsurprising that commentators have started warning about a more severe downturn. The Commission's autumn 2018 European Economic Forecast is no exception in highlighting an unusual amount of uncertainty clouding the economic outlook. The predominance of downside risks implies that macroeconomic outcomes could ex post be worse than our central scenario. This column discusses, on the basis of concrete examples, different types of uncertainty surrounding the still benign forecast baseline. Prudence requires economic policy to prepare for the eventuality of worse outturns. 

Dev Patel, Justin Sandefur, Arvind Subramanian, 25 October 2018

Diane Coyle, 16 October 2018

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