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The role of complex analysis in modeling economic growth

Angelica Sbardella, Emanuele Pugliese, Andrea Zaccaria, Pasquale Scaramozzino


Development and growth are complex and tumultuous processes. Modern economic growth theories identify some key determinants of economic growth. However, the relative importance of the determinants remains unknown, and additional variables may help clarify the directions and dimensions of the interactions. The novel stream of literature on economic complexity goes beyond aggregate measures of productive inputs, and considers instead a more granular and structural view of the productive possibilities of countries, i.e. their capabilities. Different endowments of capabilities are crucial ingredients in explaining differences in economic performances. In this paper we employ economic fitness, a measure of productive capabilities obtained through complex network techniques. Focusing on the combined roles of fitness and some more traditional drivers of growth, we build a bridge between economic growth theories and the economic complexity literature. Our findings, in agreement with other recent empirical studies, show that fitness plays a crucial role in fostering economic growth and, when it is included in the analysis, can be either complementary to traditional drivers of growth or can completely overshadow them.

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