Countries will start a new chapter in their development this year with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Designed to replace the Millennium Development Goals, these new goals will broaden the vision of development to embrace economic, social, and environmental issues. To achieve these goals, two elements are critical: money and the right policies to use the money. The IMF, along with many others in the global community, will partner with countries to bring these two elements together.
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Low-income countries have spent a lot of time thinking about how they can achieve faster growth, and we have done some research to help them. We found that pursuing export diversification is a gateway to higher growth for these economies. Using a newly constructed diversification toolkit, our empirical analysis shows that both the range and quality of the goods a country produces has a direct impact on growth
Low-income countries have historically depended on a narrow range of primary products and few export markets for the bulk of their export earnings.
But export diversification is associated with higher per capita incomes, lower output volatility, and higher economic stability—relationships that can be tracked using our new publically available dataset, which gives researchers and policymakers access to measures of export diversification and product quality for 178 countries from 1962-2010.
We have looked at two measures of export diversification and their impact on economic growth. One measure captures diversification into new product lines, the other development of a more balanced mix of existing products. Analysis using these measures shows that export diversification in low-income countries is indeed among the most effective drivers of economic growth.
Economists care about growth. Governments care about what it can achieve: more jobs and more income for more people. An increasing number of African countries have been growing robustly for more than a decade. But while growth is a necessary condition for poverty reduction and employment creation, is it also sufficient?