Middle-Income Traps: A Conceptual and Empirical Survey

40 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: September 1, 2013


In recent years, the term "middle-income trap" has entered common parlance in the development policy community. The term itself often has not been precisely defined in the incipient literature. This paper discusses in more detail definitional issues on the so-called middle-income trap. The paper presents evidence in terms of both absolute and relative thresholds. To get a better understanding of whether the performance of the middle-income trap has been different from other income categories, the paper examines historical transition phases in the inter-country distribution of income based on previous work in the literature. Transition matrix analysis provides little support for the idea of a middle-income trap. Analysis of cross-country patterns of growth provides additional support for the conclusions in the paper, which closes with a general discussion of potential policy implications.

Keywords: Economic Conditions and Volatility, Economic Theory & Research, Income, Inequality, Poverty Impact Evaluation

Suggested Citation

Im, Fernando Gabriel and Rosenblatt, David, Middle-Income Traps: A Conceptual and Empirical Survey (September 1, 2013). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 6594, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2323097

Fernando Gabriel Im (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

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Washington, DC 20433
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David Rosenblatt

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
MSN MC4-404
Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.worldbank.org/en/about/people/david-rosenblatt

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