Saturday, June 18, 2005

Everything But Income Is Converging

Brad DeLong has found, but does not link to, an interesting World Bank paper from Charles Kenny.
Why Are We Worried About Income? Nearly Everything that Matters is Converging.

Convergence of national GDP/capita numbers is a common, but narrow, measure of global success or failure in development. This paper takes a broader range of quality of life variables covering health, education, rights and infrastructure and examines if they are converging across countries. It finds that these measures are converging as a rule and (where we have data) that they have been converging for some time. The paper turns to a discussion of what might be driving convergence in quality of life even as incomes diverge, and what this might mean for the donor community.

I helpfully added a link to the abstract in his comments. The link to the full paper from the abstract costs money. I had first found this paper from Arnold Kling linking to Ronald Bailey in Reason, which has a free link to the full paper. I originally noted this paragraph:
Looking over time, a number of studies find a tenuous link between various health measures, for example, and growing income. Preston (1975) estimates that income could only account for perhaps 10-25% of the growth in life expectancy in the world as a whole between the 1930s and the 1960s. Looking at a wider range of measures, Easterly (1999) found that almost all of the quality of life variables that he could find (including infant mortality, life expectancy and war deaths per capita) were not correlated with the rate of growth in that country over the last 40 years, but instead with improvements over time common to all countries.


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