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Abstract: I establish new facts and explanations on the heterogeneous paths of structural transformation across countries. First, many countries exhibit flat-manufacturing profiles without noticeable signs of deindustrialization, which differ from the conventional steep-manufacturing hump-shaped profiles in advanced economies. Second, substantial heterogeneity exists in the labor allocation within services sector as flat-manufacturing countries tend to allocate substantially more labor into low-skilled services compared to steep-manufacturing countries. Third, heterogeneous structural transformation paths are prevalent among both earlier and later developers and not subject to the timing of development. Using a standard model of structural transformation, I find that observed differences in sectoral productivity growth are not quantitatively sufficient to generate the heterogeneous paths of structural transformation across countries. Instead, differences in relative productivity levels between manufacturing and low-skilled services account for the majority of the heterogeneity, suggesting that country-specific factors are key. I show that the observed heterogeneous paths of structural transformation contribute substantially to economic growth outcomes across countries.
Keywords: employment, agriculture, manufacturing, low-skilled services, high-skilled services, productivity, structural transformation, industrialization, premature deindustrialization
JEL Classification: E1, E24, O11, O13, O14, O41, O50