NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Structural Change, Fundamentals and Growth: A Framework and Case Studies

Margaret McMillan, Dani Rodrik, Claudia Sepulveda

NBER Working Paper No. 23378
Issued in May 2017
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Developing countries made considerable gains during the first decade of the 21st century. Their economies grew at unprecedented rates, resulting in large reductions in extreme poverty and a significant expansion of the middle class. But more recently that progress has slowed with an economic environment of lackluster global trade, not enough jobs coupled with skills mismatches, continued globalization and technological change, greater income inequality, unprecedented population aging in richer countries, and youth bulges in the poorer ones. This essay examines how seven key countries fared from 1990-2010 in their development quest. The sample includes seven developing countries—Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, India, Vietnam and Brazil —all of which experienced rapid growth in recent years, but for different reasons. The patterns of growth are analyzed in each of these countries using a unifying framework which draws a distinction between the “structural transformation” and “fundamentals” challenge in growth. Out of these seven countries, the traditional path to rapid growth of export oriented industrialization only played a significant role in Vietnam.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23378

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