Local Versus Global Convergence Across National Economies

42 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2001

See all articles by Steven N. Durlauf

Steven N. Durlauf

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Paul A. Johnson

Vassar College

Date Written: February 1992


This paper reexamines the ability of the Solow-type growth models to explain the pattern of cross-country growth rates. Recent authors, most notably Mankiw, Romer and Weil [1990], have argued that differences in national growth rates are compatible with the view that each country has access to a common, neoclassical aggregate production function. Such models imply that, conditional on population growth and savings rates, disparate economies are converging over time to the same level of per capita output. We argue that cross-country growth is better explained by a model of local versus global convergence. Countries converge locally in the sense that economies with similar initial conditions tend to converge to one another. However, we find little evidence of convergence across economies with substantially different initial conditions as measured by per capita output or literacy rates. Further, the impact of capital formation on aggregate output increases with the level of economic development. These results are consistent with models of multiple equilibria in long run behavior. Our results suggest that the Solow growth model should be supplemented with a theory of aggregate production function differences in order to fully explain international growth patterns.

Suggested Citation

Durlauf, Steven N. and Johnson, Paul Arden, Local Versus Global Convergence Across National Economies (February 1992). NBER Working Paper No. w3996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=236863

Steven N. Durlauf (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Paul Arden Johnson

Vassar College ( email )

124 Raymond Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
United States

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