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11.7 The Stylized Facts of Growth

A convincing theory of economic growth obviously needs to be consistent

with the stylized facts of growth that have emerged from historical experience.

It was Kaldor (1961) who first set out what he considered to be the

main empirical observations with which any growth theory needed to be

consistent. Kaldor’s six stylized facts, or broad tendencies, are set out below

(K1–K6), together with the additional ‘facts’ (R7–R11) noted by P. Romer

(1989) and (J12–J14) noted by Jones (2001a).

K1 Output per worker grows continuously, with no secular tendency for

the rate of growth of productivity to decline.

K2 The capital–labour ratio shows continuous growth.

K3 The rate of return on capital is stable.

K4 The capital–output ratio is stable.

K5 The shares of labour and capital in GDP remain stable.

K6 We observe significant variation in the rate of growth of productivity

across countries.

R7 In a broad cross-section of countries the average growth rate is

uncorrelated with the level of per capita income.

R8 Growth is positively correlated with the volume of international trade.

R.9 Growth rates are negatively correlated with population growth.

R10 Growth accounting research always finds a ‘residual’; that is, accumulation

of factor inputs alone cannot account for growth.

R11 High-income countries attract both skilled and unskilled workers.

J12 There is enormous variation in income per capita across countries.

J13 Growth rates for the world as a whole, and for individual countries,

vary substantially over time.

J14 The relative position of any country in the world distribution of income

can change.

Of course not all of these stylized facts are independent. As Romer (1989)

points out, fact K2 results from facts K1 and K4. Facts K4 and K5 imply fact

K3. Romer also questions the validity of K5 (see also Jones, 2004). With

respect to fact J13, economists have only recently attempted to provide a

comprehensive theory that can explain the evolution of growth rates from

Malthusian stagnation to ‘modern economic growth’ (see Galor and Weil,

1999, 2000; Hansen and Prescott, 2002).