Nothing matters more to the long-term economic welfare of a nation than its rate of economic growth. Compounded over many years, seemingly small differences in annual growth rates can lead to vast differences in standards of living. Research on economic growth has exploded in the past decade. Hundreds of empirical studies on economic growth across countries have highlighted the correlation between growth and a variety of variables. Determinants of Economic Growth, based on Robert Barro's Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures, delivered at the London School of Economics in February 1996, summarizes this important literature.The book contains three essays. The first is a survey of the research on the determinants of long-run growth through the estimation of panels of cross-country data. The second essay details the interplay between growth and political freedom or democracy and finds some evidence of a nonlinear relationship. At low levels of political rights, an expansion of rights stimulates growth; however, once a moderate level of democracy has been obtained, a further expansion of rights reduces growth. The final essay looks at the connection between inflation and economic growth. Its basic finding is that higher inflation goes along with a lower rate of economic growth.Unlike recent work that has focused on "endogenous" growth theories, in which the long-term growth rate was determined by government policies and other forces contained in the model, cross-country empirical work draws heavily on the older neoclassical model. The neoclassical model's central idea of conditional convergence receives strong support from the data: holding measures of government policy, initial levels of human capital, and other variables constant, poor countries grow faster than rich countries.
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