Alumni profile

Dr. Alejandro Lavopa

Structural transformation and economic development. Can development traps be avoided?

Year: 2015

Adam Szirmai & Bart Verspagen

This thesis addresses a classic issue in economic thinking: why some countries remain poor while others manage to reach the living standards of advanced economies, reducing their gaps in terms of technology, income and social welfare. In addressing this question the thesis postulates that success (or failure) in economic development is closely related to the ability of developing countries to perform two major transformations: structural change (i.e., the absorption of labour force in modern activities) and technological catch-up (i.e., the reduction of the technological gap with the world frontier). An in-deep empirical analysis of the last 60 years over a sample of 100 countries demonstrates that the most successful economies have been those that managed to achieve simultaneously the two transformations. The less successful ones, instead, have been unable to perform these transformations and ended up in low- or middle-income traps, in which only a fraction of the society can reap the benefits of the international flows of technological knowledge.

Selected publications by Alejandro Lavopa

Articles (journal, professional, popular)
Lavopa, Alejandro & Adam Szirmai, 2018, `Structural Modernization and Underdevelopment Traps. An Empirical Approach, World Development, 112

Book chapters
Naudé, Wim, Adam Szirmai & Alejandro Lavopa, 2015, Industrialisation and Technological Change in the BRICS. The Role of Foreign and Domestic Investment, in: W. Naudé, A. Szirmai and N. Haraguchi (eds.), Structural Change and Industrial Development in the BRICS, Oxford University Press, Oxford

UNU-MERIT Working Papers
Lavopa, Alejandro & Adam Szirmai, 2015, Industrialisation in Time and Space, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2015-039
Lavopa, Alejandro & Adam Szirmai, 2014, Structural modernization and development traps: An empirical approach, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2014-076
Lavopa, Alejandro, 2014, Catching up and lagging behind in a balance-of-payments-constrained dual economy, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2014-042
Lavopa, Alejandro & Adam Szirmai, 2012, Industrialization, employment and poverty, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2012-081
Lavopa, Alejandro, 2011, The impact of sectoral heterogeneities in economic growth and catching up: Empirical evidence for Latin American manufacturing industries, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2011-075

External working papers
Naudé, Wim, Adam Szirmai & Alejandro Lavopa, 2013, Industrialization Lessons from BRICS: A Comparative Analysis, IZA Discussion Papers 7543, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), More information

Lavopa, Alejandro, 2015, Structural transformation and economic development. Can development traps be avoided?, PhD dissertation Maastricht University / United Nations University, More information