Globalization, Structural Change and Productivity Growth

54 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2011

See all articles by Margaret McMillan

Margaret McMillan

Tufts University - Department of Economics; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2011

Abstract

Large gaps in labor productivity between the traditional and modern parts of the economy are a fundamental reality of developing societies. In this paper, we document these gaps, and emphasize that labor flows from low-productivity activities to high-productivity activities are a key driver of development. Our results show that since 1990 structural change has been growth reducing in both Africa and Latin America, with the most striking changes taking place in Latin America. The bulk of the difference between these countries' productivity performance and that of Asia is accounted for by differences in the pattern of structural change - with labor moving from low- to high-productivity sectors in Asia, but in the opposite direction in Latin America and Africa. In our empirical work, we identify three factors that help determine whether (and the extent to which) structural change contributes to overall productivity growth. In countries with a relatively large share of natural resources in exports, structural change has typically been growth reducing. Even though these "enclave" sectors usually operate at very high productivity, they cannot absorb the surplus labor from agriculture. By contrast, competitive or undervalued exchange rates and labor market flexibility have contributed to growth enhancing structural change.

Suggested Citation

McMillan, Margaret and Rodrik, Dani, Globalization, Structural Change and Productivity Growth (June 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17143. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1866102

Margaret McMillan (Contact Author)

Tufts University - Department of Economics ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-9454 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/rodrik/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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