The pattern of growth across the OECD area is changing. In most of the post-war era countries with relatively low GDP per capita have tended to catch-up with the leading countries. This convergence was somehow reversed during the 1990s. Most notably, the United States, which already had one of the highest levels of GDP per capita, drew strongly ahead of continental Europe and Japan. A number of other countries (for example, Australia, Canada and Ireland) also experienced high growth. The sources of this growth gap have been widely debated: was it mainly driven by temporary factors such as an exuberant upswing or did it reflect long-lasting features of those economies?
Learning about successful policies and spreading good practices is at the heart of the OECD mission. This is why over the past few years the Organisation has carried out a vast body of research on growth. This has highlighted what needs to be done and how much additional growth can be expected from good policies and bold economic reforms. Our findings underscore that the pay-off from successful reforms is indeed very large.
Today it is clear that these growth divergences are not only well entrenched, but also that policy differences are largely responsible. The OECD has published The Policy Agenda for Growth, based on the results of four years of research -- the OECD Growth Project. This report, available here, focuses on these policy differences and makes specific recommendations.
High level discussions on the policy agenda have been held in Washington, and a press briefing took place in Paris. Presentations by the OECD Chief Economist Jean-Philippe Cotis and supporting materials may be accessed here.
An article by Mr. Cotis published in the OECD Observer, A question of structure: Explaining the divergence of growth in the OECD area, is available here.
The subject is also treated ina special chapter in the OECD Economic Outlook no. 73 (June 2003), entitled "Structural policies and growth". The chapter is available to be downloaded here.
Much of the OECD Growth Project's background research has recently been published in The Sources of Economic Growth in OECD Countries. This e-book may be The downloaded for free here. Paper copies may be purchased at the OECD Online Bookshop.
A selection of tables published in The Sources of Economic Growth in OECD Countries are available here for downloading in EXCEL format.
The OECD Economics Department Working Paper series contains a wealth of research. The following themes may be of interest:
For the entire list of OECD Economics Department Working Papers, click here.
As part of the OECD Growth Project, a valuable collection of firm-level data has been established. The data are available online, along with a number of related papers and relevant links from the Firm-Level Data Project page.