Immiserizing Growth As Seen By Bhagwati, Samuelson, And Others

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2007

Published In

Journal Of Economic Education


Immiserizing growth is a long-term phenomenon that occurs when the gain in a country's social welfare arising from economic growth is more than offset by the loss in such welfare associated with an adverse shift in the terms of trade. In one case explored many years ago by Jagdish Bhagwati, immiserizing growth occurs in a developing nation that has started economic growth but faces unfavorable international demand conditions as it increases its traditional exports. In another case explored recently by Paul A. Samuelson, immiserizing growth occurs for the growing industrialized country when its trade partner follows a policy of import substituting growth and, as a result, shifts the terms of trade against the exporting country. Still others have specified a variety of different cases of immiserizing growth. The author provides a simple graphical method to analyze these situations and then presents data showing that immiserizing growth is a relatively rare phenomenon.

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