World Economic Outlook, April 2018
Cyclical Upswing, Structural Change

April 2018

Back to Top

Introduction

The global economic upswing that began around mid-2016 has become broader and stronger. This new World Economic Outlook report projects that advanced economies as a group will continue to expand above their potential growth rates this year and next before decelerating, while growth in emerging market and developing economies will rise before leveling off. For most countries, current favorable growth rates will not last. Policymakers should seize this opportunity to bolster growth, make it more durable, and equip their governments better to counter the next downturn.

Back to Top

Chapter 1: Global Prospects and Policies

World growth strengthened in 2017 to 3.8 percent, with a notable rebound in global trade. It was driven by an investment recovery in advanced economies, continued strong growth in emerging Asia, a notable upswing in emerging Europe, and signs of recovery in several commodity exporters. Global growth is expected to tick up to 3.9 percent this year and next, supported by strong momentum, favorable market sentiment, accommodative financial conditions, and the domestic and international repercussions of expansionary fiscal policy in the United States. The partial recovery in commodity prices should allow conditions in commodity exporters to gradually improve.

Full Text of Chapter 1 Blog
Table of Contents and Data  

Back to Top

Chapter 2: Labor Force Participation in Advanced Economies: Drivers and Prospects

Despite the acceleration in population aging in almost all advanced economies over the past decade, aggregate labor force participation rates show divergent trajectories. Headline numbers also hide strikingly different shifts in the labor force attachment of different groups of workers: participation has increased among prime-age women and, more recently, older workers, but it has fallen among the young and among prime-age men. This chapter finds that aging and the drag from the global financial crisis can explain a significant share of the decline in the participation of men during the past decade. However, the rising participation of women underscores the importance of other factors in shaping participation decisions. The analysis suggests that labor market policies and institutions, together with structural changes and gains in educational attainment, account for the bulk of the dramatic increase in the labor force attachment of prime-age women and older workers in the past three decades. At the same time, technological advances such as automation, while beneficial for the economy as a whole, have weighed moderately on participation rates.

Full Text of Chapter 2 Blog
Table of Contents and Data  

Back to Top

Chapter 3: Manufacturing Jobs: Implications for Productivity and Inequality

The declining share of manufacturing jobs in overall employment has been a concern for policymakers and the broader public alike in both advanced economies and some developing economies. This concern stems from the widely held belief that manufacturing plays a unique role as a catalyst for productivity growth and income convergence and a source of well-paid jobs for less-skilled workers. Against that backdrop, this chapter aims to provide new evidence on the role of manufacturing in the dynamics of output per worker and in the level and distribution of labor earnings. The two main takeaways from the analysis are that (1) a shift in employment from manufacturing to services need not hinder economy-wide productivity growth and the prospects for developing economies to gain ground toward advanced-economy income levels, and (2) while the displacement of workers from manufacturing to services in advanced economies has coincided with a rise in labor income inequality, this increase was mainly driven by larger disparities in earnings across all sectors.

Full Text of Chapter 3 Blog
Table of Contents and Data  

Back to Top

Chapter 4: Is Productivity Growth Shared in a Globalized Economy?

Technology is a key driver of improvements in income and standard of living. Historically, technological developments have been concentrated in a few large industrialized economies. Therefore, the way technology diffuses across countries is central to how global growth is generated and shared across countries. Globalization has likely changed the diffusion process, with a large body of literature highlighting the importance of trade and foreign direct investment. Against this background, this chapter takes a closer look at the process of international technology diffusion. It examines whether globalization means that knowledge from technology leaders is spreading faster than it used to, and how this impacts the capacity of other economies to innovate and be more productive.

Full Text of Chapter 4 Blog
Table of Contents and Data  

Statistical Appendix

Full Text
Open Table of Content for Statistical Appendix

Back to Top

Videos: Presentation of the Analytical Chapters