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The services sector in developing economies: a new engine of growth?

12nd National Competition for Economic Research Grants

International economics

Senior Researcher : Gisela Di Meglio

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Research Centre or Institution : Universidad Complutense de Madrid


The aim of this research project is to contribute to the knowledge of the process of structural change of developing economies, therefore improving the understanding of the role played by the services sector in the growth of those economies. Economic growth has traditionally been associated with industrialisation. However, in many developing economies we can observe great dynamism in the services sector (and/or a process of "deindustrialisation"), which is taking place at levels of per capita income lower than those historically observed in the case of the most advanced modern economies. Likewise, some studies have recently demonstrated that improvements in the productivity of market services are as important as, or even more important than, the growth in productivity in manufacturing. In this context, the main aim of this project is to re-examine the relation between the services sector, growth and development.

Two closely related working hypotheses underlie this research. The first premise is that some services sectors can be an additional source of economic growth in developing economies. Secondly, this fact could be a reflection of the existence of changes in the inter-industrial production linkages deriving from the greater use of services as intermediate inputs for the rest of the economy. One of the objectives of the project is therefore to re-examine and reinterpret the laws put forward by Nicholas Kaldor (1966 and 1967), one of the classical theoretical approaches to the relation between structural composition and economic growth. It will test the validity of those laws in the framework of developing economies and among disaggregated service sectors. Likewise, the project aims to provide new empirical evidence regarding the relative contribution of final and intermediate demand to the growth in the production of services in those economies.

The results of the project will be relevant for the design of economic policies in developing countries. If the achievement of these objectives makes it possible to confirm the research hypotheses, new lines of action would be opened up for those policies.

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