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Productivity, Structural Change and Latin American Development

Antonio Saravia, Carlos Machicado Salas () and Felix Rioja

Review of Development Economics, 2014, vol. 18, issue 3, 610-624

Abstract: We calibrate a simple neoclassical growth model adapted to illustrate a process of structural transformation or industrialization to a group of nine South American countries. The paper shows that low levels of agricultural productivity can substantially delay the process of industrialization, which, together with low levels of non-agricultural productivity observed in recent decades, satisfactorily explains the significant differences in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita levels among the countries in our sample. The results suggest that Argentina underwent the process of industrialization first followed by Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia. The model predicts that the ranking of these countries in terms of GDP per capita would follow this order until convergence occurs. The empirical evidence confirms the prediction of the model with the exceptions of Uruguay and Chile which caught up with Argentina in terms of GDP per capita levels in the late 1980s.

Date: 2014
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