In his latest book, A. Michael Spence, CFR distinguished visiting fellow and Nobel laureate, explores a convergence between "two parallel and interacting revolutions: the continuation of the Industrial Revolution in the advanced countries, and the sudden and dramatic spreading pattern of growth in the developing world."
In The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World, Spence explains how the global economy reached its current state, studying high growth and poverty reduction in the developing world, and analyzing the short- and long-term effects of the global economic and financial crises of 2008. Using these findings, Spence examines whether "high growth in incomes and wealth can be sustained," adding that "there are economic, governance, natural resource, and environmental braking mechanisms that may slow the process down or cause it to stop altogether."
Through this narrative, Spence answers questions such as:
- What caused an additional 60 percent of the world to begin the process of joining the world of affluence?
- How long does it take for a poor country to make a full transition to advanced country status?
- What attributes of advanced economies are constraining their growth, and will developing countries face similar limitations as they become wealthier?
- Will emerging powers such as China be able to navigate the "middle-income transition"—a move from labor-intensive to more capital- and knowledge-intensive growth?
- Can the global complex emerging and evolving global economy, with its rising interdependencies and complexities, be managed for stability, growth, sustainability, and fairness?
- Can the environment withstand a fourfold increase in the ranks of the relatively wealthy?
Stressing the importance of understanding these "multispeed" economic transformations, Spence argues that although, for the developed world, the conditions and growth of developing nations are "outside the range of day-to-day experience," the effects are of "enormous importance and will be felt by the vast majority of the world's population for years to come."