Op zoek naar convergentie

CAMBRIDGE – Een raadsel van de wereldeconomie is dat de rijke landen op de wereld 200 jaar lang sneller groeiden dan armere landen, een proces dat treffend beschreven wordt door Lant Pritchett in zijn artikel ‘Divergence Big Time’. Toen Adam Smith in 1776 The Wealth of Nations schreef, was het inkomen per hoofd van de bevolking in het rijkste land ter wereld (waarschijnlijk Nederland) ongeveer vier keer zo hoog als in de armste landen. Twee eeuwen later was Nederland 40 keer zo rijk als China, 24 keer zo rijk als India en tien keer zo rijk als Thailand.

Maar de laatste drie decennia heeft de trend zich omgekeerd. Nu is Nederland slechts 11 maal rijker dan India en nauwelijks vier maal rijker dan China en Thailand. Toen hij deze omkering opmerkte heeft de Nobelprijswinnaar economie Michael Spence betoogd dat de wereld op het punt van The Next Convergencestaat.

Toch divergeren sommige landen nog steeds. Terwijl Nederland in 1980 5.8, 7.7 en 15 maal rijker was dan respectievelijk Nicaragua, Ivoorkust en Kenia was het in 2012 10.5, 21.1en 24.4 maal rijker.

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