Saving and Growth in Sri Lanka
30 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2013
In the aftermath of its long-standing civil war, Sri Lanka is keen to reap the social and economic benefits of peace. Even in the middle of civil conflict, the country was able to grow at rates that surpassed those of its neighbors and most developing countries. It is argued, then, that the peace dividend may bring about even higher rates of economic growth. Is this possible? And if so, under what conditions? To be sure, Sri Lanka's high growth rate in the past three decades did not come for free. It took an increasing effort of resource mobilization in the country, with a rise in national saving from 15 percent of gross domestic product in the mid-1970s to 25 percent in 2010. This rise in national saving was fundamentally fueled and sustained by the private sector. In the future, however, the private saving rate is likely to decline because the demographic transition experienced in the country is bound to produce higher old dependency rates in the next two decades. However, the public sector has much room for reducing its deficits and increasing public investment. Similarly, external investors are likely to encounter attractive and profitable investment projects in the coming years in a reformed and peaceful environment. The government of Sri Lank has two goals regarding these issues. First, increasing public saving to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2013; and second, increasing international investment in the country by letting the current account deficit increase to 4-5 percent of gross domestic product in the coming years. If these goals are achieved, what can be expected for growth of gross domestic product in the country? To answer this question, this paper presents a neoclassical growth model with endogenous private saving, calibrates it to fit the Sri Lankan economy, and simulates the behavior of growth rates of gross domestic product and related variables under different scenarios. In what the authors call the Reform Scenario, total factor productivity would increase from 1 to 1.75 percent per year. This would produce a gross domestic product growth rate of about 6.5 percent in the next 5 years, 4.6 percent by 2020, and 3.5 percent by 2030, the end of the simulation period. This robust growth performance would be supported at the beginning mostly by capital accumulation but later on mainly by productivity improvements.
Keywords: Economic Growth, Emerging Markets, Access to Finance, Economic Theory & Research, Achieving Shared Growth
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