HKS Authors

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Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy


Most conventional accounts of India's recent economic performance associate the pick-up in economic growth with the liberalization of 1991. This paper demonstrates that the transition to high growth occurred around 1980, a full decade before economic liberalization. We investigate a number of hypotheses about the causes of this growth (favorable external environment, fiscal stimulus, trade liberalization, internal liberalization, the green revolution, public investment) and find them wanting. We argue that growth was triggered by an attitudinal shift on the part of the national government towards a pro-business (as opposed to pro-liberalization) approach. We provide some evidence that is consistent with this argument. We also find that registered manufacturing built up in previous decades played an important role in influencing the pattern of growth across the Indian states.


Rodrik, Dani and Arvind Subramanian. "From 'Hindu Growth' to Productivity Surge: The Mystery of the Indian Growth Transition." KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP04-013, March 2004.