NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Premature Deindustrialization

Dani Rodrik

NBER Working Paper No. 20935
Issued in February 2015
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Economic Fluctuations and Growth, International Trade and Investment, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

I document a significant deindustrialization trend in recent decades, that goes considerably beyond the advanced, post-industrial economies. The hump-shaped relationship between industrialization (measured by employment or output shares) and incomes has shifted downwards and moved closer to the origin. This means countries are running out of industrialization opportunities sooner and at much lower levels of income compared to the experience of early industrializers. Asian countries and manufactures exporters have been largely insulated from those trends, while Latin American countries have been especially hard hit. Advanced economies have lost considerable employment (especially of the low-skill type), but they have done surprisingly well in terms of manufacturing output shares at constant prices. While these trends are not very recent, the evidence suggests both globalization and labor-saving technological progress in manufacturing have been behind these developments. Premature deindustrialization has potentially significant economic and political ramifications, including lower economic growth and democratic failure.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20935

Published: Dani Rodrik, 2016. "Premature deindustrialization," Journal of Economic Growth, vol 21(1), pages 1-33. citation courtesy of

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