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.
Although the economic growth literature has come a long way since the Solow-Swan model of the fifties, there is still considerable debate on the "real' or "deep" determinants of growth. This paper revisits the question of what is really important for strong long-term growth by using a Binary Classification Tree approach, a nonparametric statistical technique that is not commonly used in the growth literature. A key strength of the method is that it recognizes that a combination of conditions can be instrumental in leading to a particular outcome, in this case strong growth. The paper finds that strong growth is a result of a complex set of interacting factors, rather than a particular set of variables such as institutions or geography, as is often cited in the literature. In particular, geographical luck and a favorable external environment, combined with trade openness and strong human capital are conducive to growth.