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 reviews the experience of economic growth during the twentieth century with a view to highlighting implications for both growth economists and policy-makers. The unprecedented divergence in income levels between the OECD economies and many developing countries is documented but so too is a more optimistic picture of widespread progress in terms of the Human Development Index. Various aspects of the changes in economic structure are explored in terms of their implications for growth performance both in retrospect and prospect. The possibility that the growth process will lead to another globalization backlash reminiscent of the 1930s is analyzed.