Structural transformation — old and new paths to economic development

Building on comparable, long-term, and high-quality sectoral data on employment and productivity from low- and middle-income countries, the project examines patterns, drivers, and consequences of the different kinds of structural transformation taking place in today’s developing economies.

The project will deliver new and sharper insights into alternate forms of structural transformation, and the policy implications they carry for socioeconomic development. The work will provide a key benchmark for studying and understanding structural transformation which moves beyond mainstream perspectives on development, to inform and guide policy makers on the possibilities of the different roads to structural transformation.

A key output of the project will be a book addressing theoretical, empirical and policy implications of the pathways to structural transformation, drawing on data from Africa, Asia, and Latin America of the Economic Transformation Database, the successor of the GGDC 10-sector database.

Using the stylized facts of structural transformation as a starting point, the analysis will revisit both classical and more recent approaches to structural transformation to see how well they can explain the patterns observed in structurally underdeveloped economies. The analysis will also examine what drives structural transformations, as well as how structural transformation relates to economic growth, inequality, and poverty reduction.

Key questions
  • What are the drivers of new forms of structural transformation versus old forms? 
  • What are the jobs and livelihoods implications of old and new forms of structural transformation for women and disadvantaged groups in particular?
  • What are the implications of old and new forms of structural transformation for economic growth?
  • What are the poverty and inequality dynamics of new forms of structural transformation?
Watch this space

All working papers, events, briefs, blog posts, and opportunities to engage relating to the project will be made available on this webpage.

UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The research will address Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth; Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure; and Goal 10: Reduced inequalities.


Main subject

Theme: 2019-23, Transforming economies