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Beyond income : convergence in living standards, big time

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This article tests for convergence over the period 1960 to 1999 in a wide range of fundamental aspects of living standards, namely life expectancy, infant survival, educational enrolment, literacy as well as telephone and television availability. I argue that one should look at convergence in living standards, not in some achievement index. Various techniques are applied to test for convergence, including regression analysis, the coefficient of variation, kernel density estimates and transition probability matrices. I find strong evidence for convergence in the aspects of living standards mentioned above. This result stands in stark contrast to the conclusions of an article by Hobijn and Franses (2001), published in this journal. In suggesting divergence rather than convergence in living standards, Hobijn and Franses unduly deny one of the great success stories of development in the last century.

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