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Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

We describe the extent of convergence or divergence by an index that compares in percentage terms the ratio of the developing country to the developed country value in the last year for which data are available (generally 2000 or 2001), with the same ratio for the first year for which data are generally available (generally in the 1960s and 1970s, but some in the 1980s and, for a few variables, data are available only for the 1990s, such as number of Internet users or mobile phones per 100 people, or public expenditure on health).5 A positive value indicates movement toward convergence and a negative value, divergence. Convergence or divergence is always measured in reference to the paths of the developed country characteristics.6 However, to shorten the exposition below, we usually summarize the recent history of a variable as having been in the direction of “convergence” or “divergence,” without repeatedly stating that the reference group is the developed countries. Because we are focusing on how developing country characteristics compare with the developed country characteristics as the latter change over time, we are assessing “convergence” or “divergence” with respect to a moving target. As we note below, for some of the characteristics we consider, there have been large changes in the developed country characteristics over time so that even if the developing country values have, for example, changed a lot in the direction of the developed country characteristics, they may not have changed enough for there to have been convergence. An important example, to illustrate, is per capita national product. For most (not all) developing country groups, there have been increases in recent decades, but in many cases the increases have not been as great as those for the developed country group—so there has been divergence despite the secular increases.

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To be more explicit, the index = 100* [(Region value for 2000)/(Developed Country value for 2000) – (Region value for earliest year data available)/(Developed Country value for earliest year data available)] for variables for which (Region value for earliest year data available)/(Developed Country value for earliest year data available) is < 1. This condition holds for most of the variables, but not for some (e.g., exceptions include a number of the population variables such as the dependency ratio and the share of agriculture in production). For the variables for which (Region value for earliest year data available)/(Developed Country value for earliest year data available) is > 1, the index is −100* [(Region value for 2000)/(Developed Country value for 2000) − (Region value for earliest year data available)/(Developed Country value for earliest year data available). The last column in Table 2-1 gives the first and last year used for each of the variables that we consider.

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And not, for example, whether there is convergence or divergence among the developing country groups, though, of course, to the extent that for some characteristics the developing country groups converge toward the characteristics of the developed countries, there is also likely (though not with certainty) to be convergence of these characteristics among the developing countries.



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