The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper undertakes a cross-country analysis of productivity growth at both the aggregate and sectoral level. It finds that Asia's remarkable output growth over the past 40 years reflected both high investment, and rapid productivity increases. These factors were in turn supported by the region's relatively strong institutional and policy environment, which encouraged resource shifts from low- to high-productivity sectors. Looking ahead, sustaining rapid growth requires meeting a number of key challenges: (i) implementing reforms to boost productivity in the increasingly important, but currently lagging, service sectors; (ii) providing policy support for continuing the shift of resources from agriculture to industry and services; (iii) strengthening policy frameworks in late-developing countries.