Industrialisation as an engine of growth in developing countries

Adam Szirmai


This paper examines the emergence of manufacturing in developing countries in the period 1950-2005. It presents new data on structural change in a sample of 63 developing countries and 16 advanced economies. Industrialisation is seen as a single global process of structural change, in which separate countries follow different paths depending on their initial conditions and moment of their entry into the industrial race. With a few important exceptions such as Mexico, Brazil, India and China, developing countries embarked on industrialisation after 1945. The paper argues that successful catch up in developing countries is associated with industrialisation. It examines the theoretical and empirical for the thesis that industrialisation acts as an engine of growth and attempts to quantify different aspects of this debate. The statistical evidence is not straightforward. Manufacturing has been important for growth in developing countries, but not all expectations of the engine of growth hypothesis are borne out by the data. The more general historical evidence provides more support for the industrialisation thesis.

Keywords: Structural Change, Manufacturing, Engine of Growth, Catch Up

JEL CODES: O14, Industrialisation, Manufacturing and Service Industries; N6, Manufacturing and Construction

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872