NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Poor Nations Catching Up

April 24, 1997

A handful of developing countries are on the road to rivaling developed countries in terms of per capita income, according to the International Monetary Fund's semiannual World Economic Outlook report.

  • If Malaysia maintains its rapid economic growth rate, it will halve the gap between its per capita income and that of the world's advanced economies in just eight years.
  • In 1995 the per capita incomes of Malaysia and Chile were close to $8,000.
  • Chile will halve the income gap in ten years, Thailand in 11 and China in 16.
  • But at recent growth rates, it will take India 70 to 154 years to do so, while taking Bangladesh 141 years.

For Vietnam and Uganda, years required to halve the gap were estimated at 87 and 52, respectively.

Among factors the IMF considers in determining a developing country's prospects are workers' skill levels, openness to foreign trade and investment, and political, civil and macroeconomic stability.

The IMF said that no policy, in itself, is sufficient for fast growth; but that good policies tend to be mutually reinforcing.


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