Efforts to revive national manufacturing sectors get a lot of airtime. After all, the sector propelled many East and South East Asian economies—the so-called “East Asia Miracle”—and was a gateway to the middle class for millions of workers. However, for all the obsession with manufacturing, economists for their part seem to be more preoccupied with services.
To confirm this, we combed through thousands of IMF reports on countries’ economies from 1978 to 2019. Using 113 distinct terms related to growth theory and policy—ranging from “infrastructure” to “liberalization”—we computed the relative weights of each term across countries and years. As shown in our chart of the week, “services” is used more than any other term.