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Economic openness and income growth in developing countries: a regional comparative analysis

Alexander Bilson Darku and Richard Yeboah

Applied Economics, 2018, vol. 50, issue 8, 855-869

Abstract: This article examines and compares the openness–growth relationship between the high-performing Asian economies (HPAEs) and the rest of the developing world (Sub-Saharan Africa-SSA, South East Asia-SEA and Latin America and Caribbean-LAC). We applied the SYS-GMM estimator to a dynamic standard endogenous growth model which relates economic openness to real per capita income growth. A few key findings emerged from this study. First, economic openness led to increase in real per capita GDP growth in HPAEs and SSA, but not in LAC and SEA. Second, openness to trade accelerated income convergence among countries in SSA, SEA, and HPAEs, however, whereas foreign direct investment inflows accelerated income convergence only in SSA, it rather de-accelerated income convergence in HPAEs. Thirdly, the HPAEs recorded higher positive effect of openness on real per capita GDP growth than any of the other developing regions because they created sufficient stock of human capital that enhanced their absorptive capacity of imported advanced technology. They also created a more stable macroeconomic environment which consolidated the income growth gains from openness. The results of this study highlight the importance of the implementation of policies that are complementary to economic openness in promoting economic growth in the developing world.

Date: 2018
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