The path to economic development is growing more treacherous, again

IN THE 1990S economists had almost given up on the developing world. Although individual countries, like Singapore or South Korea, occasionally scaled the income ladder, the overall picture was, in the words of Lant Pritchett, a development economist at Harvard University, “divergence, big-time” between advanced economies and the rest. Then the scene changed. From the late 1990s global trade grew explosively, and the gap between the rich and the rest closed fast. Poverty tumbled. The share of people living on no more than $1.90 a day (at purchasing-power parity) fell from 36% in 1990 to just 10% in 2015. It would be the best of news if this trend could be maintained. Sadly, convergence seems to be slowing. That is bad news for Africa in particular.

The path to becoming a rich country usually runs through industrialisation, supported by opening up to trade and developing export industries. Trade facilitates technology transfer. Global markets weed out all but the most productive firms and allow even companies from small countries to scale up using techniques such as mass production.

Historically, few poor countries had stable, growth-oriented governments for long enough to build a broad, competitive industrial base. But in recent decades the once-exclusive club of fast-growing economies welcomed scores of new members,...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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