OMAR D. BELLO, JUAN S. BLYDE, D. RESTUCCIA
The standard of living, measured as gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, increased dramatically in Venezuela relative to that of the United States from 20 percent in 1920 to 90 percent in 1958, but since then has collapsed to around 30 percent nowadays. What explains these remarkable growth and collapse episodes? Using a standard development accounting framework, the authors show that the growth episode is mainly accounted for by an increase in capital accumulation and knowledge transfer associated with the foreign direct investment in the booming oil industry. The collapse episode is accounted for equally by a fall in total factor productivity and in capital accumulation. The authors analyze Venezuela during the collapse episode in the context of a model of heterogeneous production units were policies and institutions favour unproductive in detriment of more productive activities. These policies generate misallocation, lower TFP, and a decline in capital accumulation. They show in the context of an heterogeneous-establishment growth model that distortionary policies can explain a large portion of the current differences in TFP, capital accumulation, and income per capita between Venezuela and the United States.