A survey of economic growth

Mark Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the process of economic growth has been called the ultimate objective of economics. It has also been likened to an elusive quest – like the Holy Grail or the Elixir of Life (Easterly 2001). Taking on such a quest requires ingenuity and perseverance. Even small insights along the way can have major benefits to millions of people; small mistakes can do the reverse. Economies which achieve large increases in output over extended periods of time, not only enable rapid increases in standards of living, but also have dramatic changes in the economic, political and social landscape. For example, the USA is estimated to produce approximately 30 times as much in 1999 as it did in 1899. This sustained economic growth means that in 1999 the USA had an average income per capita of US$34 100. In contrast, sub-Saharan Africa had an average income of $490. Understanding these vast income differences, produced over many decades, is the elusive quest.
The aim of this survey is to explain how economists try to understand the process of economic growth. To make the task manageable, the focus is on major issues and current debates. Models and conceptual frameworks are discussed in section III. Section IV summarises empirical studies, with a particular focus on econometric studies of groups of countries. This is not to say that case studies of single countries are not valuable, but space precludes covering everything. The following section sets out some facts about economic growth and, hopefully, motivates the further effort needed to tackle the theory and econometrics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-135
Number of pages24
JournalEconomic Record
Issue number244
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003


  • economic growth
  • income
  • standards of living
  • economics


Dive into the research topics of 'A survey of economic growth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this