This paper investigates the evidence for convergence in per capita incomes across 115 economies during the period 1950–1998 and examines the impact that international trade had on this process. Drawing on trade-conditioning within a distribution dynamics framework, that explicitly models frequency distributions of the cross sections of economies over time, this study suggests that trade patterns in the Golden Age were conducive to the formation of middle and high income groups or clubs of economies, but similar trade patterns (dominated by the rich economies) do not seem to explain the perpetuation of these group formations in the post-Golden Age period. If foreign trade is a key aspect of globalisation, why does it matter in accounting for the observed dynamics of the international income distribution during the Golden Age, but not during the decades since the first oil-shock? Further, the evidence from the ergodic (long-run equilibrium) distribution suggests that in the long term the established trade patterns favoured the growth of the rich at the expense of the poor economies across the world
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