Determinants of labor-intensive exports by the developing countries: a cross country analysis

3 Sep 2012

While it is widely recognized that industrial development is imperative in developing countries to reduce poverty and to attain sustainable economic growth, there is no consensus on how to develop industries and where to start.

Generally, the literature argues that developing countries should concentrate on promoting labour intensive industries and exports first due to their low capital stock and relatively abundant labor force. Though many developing countries are attempting to follow this path, the interesting observation is that not all developing countries are reaping the benefits of promoting labor intensive industries in terms of employment generation and sustaining economic growth.

This raises an important question as to how it is possible for some developing countries to enjoy more benefits from labor intensive industries, while others are not able to do so. Using cross-country panel data in explaining heterogeneous performance in exporting labor intensive products by the developing countries, an attempt has been made in this paper to identify the important factors over and above the conventional factors such as low labor wages that contribute to the sustained growth of labor intensive exports from developing countries.

The empirical findings of this paper emphasizes that even to initiate and sustain the growth of the low value added industries, such as garments, the developing countries should develop basic infrastructure and maintain a friendly business environment.

Authors: Mottaleb Khondoker, International Rice Research Institute, Manila and Kaliappa Kalirajan, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University

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