What have We Learnt from the Convergence Debate?



This paper surveys the convergence literature. It begins by laying out different definitions of convergence and by showing the link between the convergence issue and the growth theory debate. The paper then follows the convergence research conducted along four different approaches, namely the cross-section, panel, time-series, and distribution approaches. The paper shows the association of these methodological approaches with various definitions of convergence and highlights the connections among the convergence results. It shows that, despite some impressions to the contrary, there is considerable agreement among the results. Although the convergence research might not have solved the growth debate entirely, it has helped both the neoclassical and the new growth theories to adapt and evolve. The research on convergence has established new stylized facts regarding cross-country growth regularities. It has brought to fore the existence of large technological and institutional differences across countries and has given rise to new methodologies for quantifying and analyzing these differences. This is providing a new information base for analysis of technological and institutional diffusion and for further development of growth theory in general.