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The New Era of Unconditional Convergence

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • February 5, 2021
  • Dev Patel, Justin Sandefur, Arvind Subramanian

The central fact that has motivated the empirics of economic growth—namely unconditional divergence—is no longer true and has not been so for decades. Across a range of data sources, poorer countries have in fact been catching up with richer ones, albeit slowly, since the mid-1990s. This new era of convergence does not stem primarily from growth moderation in the rich world but rather from accelerating growth in the developing world, which has simultaneously become remarkably less volatile and more persistent. Debates about a “middle-income trap” also appear anachronistic: middle-income countries have exhibited higher growth rates than all others since the mid-1980s.

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