The process of economic development is characterized by substantial reallocations of resources across sectors. In this paper, we construct a multi-sector model in which there are barriers to the movement of labor from low-productivity traditional agriculture to modern sectors. With the barrier in place, we show that improvements in productivity in modern sectors (including agriculture) or reductions in transportation costs may lead to a rise in agricultural employment and through terms-oftrade effects may harm subsistence farmers if the traditional subsistence sector is larger than a critical level. This suggests that policy advice based on the earlier literature needs to be revised. Reducing barriers to mobility (through reductions in the cost of skill acquisition and institutional changes) and improving the productivity of subsistence farmers needs to precede policies designed to increase the productivity of modern sectors or decrease transportation costs.
Diversification and structural transformation play important roles in influencing the macroeconomic performance of low-income countries (LICs). Increases in income per capita at early stages of development are typically accompanied by a transformation in a country’s production and export structure. This can include diversification into new products and trading partners as well as increases in the quality of existing products.
Christian Henn, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Mr. Nikola Spatafora
This paper develops new, far more extensive estimates of export quality, covering 178 countries and hundreds of products over 1962–2010. Quality upgrading is particularly rapid during the early stages of development, with quality convergence largely completed as a country reaches upper middle-income status. There is significant cross-country heterogeneity in quality growth rates. Within any given product line, quality converges both conditionally and unconditionally to the world frontier; increases in institutional quality and human capital are associated with faster quality upgrading. In turn, faster growth in quality is associated with more rapid output growth. The evidence suggests that quality upgrading is best encouraged through a broadly conducive domestic environment, rather than sector-specific policies. Diversification is important to create new upgrading opportunities.
Limited diversification is an underlying characteristic of many low-income countries (LICs). Concentration in sectors with limited scope for increases in productivity and quality may result in less broad-based and sustainable growth. Moreover, lack of diversification may increase exposure to adverse external shocks and macroeconomic instability. The SDN will have three objectives. First, to review and extend the evidence, from the existing literature and ongoing IMF work, that points to diversification as a crucial aspect of the development process. A major focus will be on cross-country and cross-regional differences in the pace of diversification. Second, to draw lessons from the experiences of those countries that have successfully diversified their economies. Third, to analyze the relationship between diversification, growth, and volatility.