, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 157-187

Economic Distance and Cross-Country Spillovers

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Rates of long-run economic growth are not independent across countries. To account for this dependence we decompose the spatial covariance function of growth rates into a function of each country’s own observable characteristics, its unobservable characteristics, and cross-country spillovers. We use original data on economic distance to structure observed variation in countries’ long term growth rates. We use this structure to estimate the magnitude of economic interdependence among nations, and to give a nonparametric characterization of the relationship between economic distance and the magnitude of cross-country spillovers. These spillovers turn out to be quite important, accounting for more of the spatial covariance in growth rates than unobservable variables, and by some measures rivalling the importance of the country’s own observable characteristics.