Dani Rodrik writes:
Dani Rodrik's weblog: The most telling chart I have seen in a long time: Here is what seems to have happened: For all its faults, IS promoted rapid structural change. Labor moved from agriculture to industry, and within industry from lower-productivity activities to higher-productivity ones. So much for the inherent inefficiency of IS policies!
Under WC, firms and industries were able to accomplish a comparable rate of productivity growth, but they did so by shedding (rather than hiring) labor. The displaced labor went not to higher-productivity activities, but to less productive lines of work such as informality and various services. In other words, the WC ended up promoting the wrong kind of structural change.
This account reinforces the centrality of structural change in driving rapid economic growth. It should also cause us to be wary of productivity studies that focus on what is happening within manufacturing alone. After all, productivity within manufacturing can be stellar, but if manufacturing or other high productivity sectors as a whole are rapidly shedding labor, economy-wide productivity performance will be disappointing.
Arthur Lewis lives.