Date of Award

5-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Morshed, AKM Mahbub

Abstract

The dissertation examines catching up in labor productivity across countries and across US states. It also studies the role of financial development and inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) on labor productivity and structural change. Chapter one studies unconditional convergence in labor productivity in cross section of countries. Using disaggregated service sector data for 101 countries, we find unconditional convergence in labor productivity for the service sector. The aggregate service sector yields a large unconditional convergence coefficient of -0.028, while for individual sub-sectors we find a similar presence of unconditional convergence. Since the service sector, as part of the "modern" sector now also faces international competition, unconditional convergence in labor productivity in this sector is not totally unwarranted. Given Rodrik's recent findings of unconditional convergence in labor productivity in the manufacturing sector (2013) and the observed failure of unconditional convergence of per capita GDP, our findings of unconditional convergence in the service sector suggest that we need to look carefully at methodological issues such as "aggregation bias" and the huge divergence of other sectors such as the agricultural sector as a potential solution to this anomaly. In chapter two, we investigate secoral unconditional convergence in labor productivity in the US sates using two series of data sets for the period 1987-1997 and 1998-2013. We have found evidence for catching up in labor productivity in the US states for the majority sectors. There is no evidence for unconditional convergence for the mining sector in 1-digit classification for 1980-1997 and manufacturing and utilities sectors in 2-digit classification for the recent data (1998-2013). The aggregate per capita GDP convergence test shows evidence for convergence for the 1980-1997 data but no evidence for convergence in the recent data consistent with the existing literature. The same factors that were considered responsible for regional convergence in the US, such as migration and falling cost of education, could work in the opposite direction to cause divergence in per capita income in recent years. Chapter three considers the relationship between financial development, inflow of foreign direct investment, labor productivity and structural change variables for 41 countries in Groningen Growth and Development 10-sector database for the period 1971-2012 using panel-VAR methodology. The effect of financial development on total labor productivity and employment share in sectors depend on the income level and geographical locations. We find that financial development has a significantly positive effect on total labor productivity of high income European countries, the United States, and for middle income Latin American counties. We do not find evidence for the positive effect of financial development on labor productivity for low income and middle income countries except for Latin American countries. The result does not show a significant effect of financial development on sectoral employment and value added shares. Inflow of FDI has a statistically significant negative effect on employment share of agriculture in middle income countries, and positive effect on the employment share of the manufacturing sector in middle income Asian countries.

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