Resilient, stable, sustainable: The benefits of economic diversification

Published: May 10, 2011

Executive summary

The effects of the recent global economic crisis were allpervasive, and demonstrated that no economy is safe from destabilizing external events. Resource-dependent countries, with their narrow base of economic activity, are particularly vulnerable, but all countries may have vulnerabilities stemming from a lack of diversification in one or more economic dimensions, and they must be more vigilant in managing risks to their economies. Not only must a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) be balanced among sectors, but key elements of its economy must be varied, flexible, and readily applicable to a variety of economic opportunities, and areas of overconcentration must continually be identified and mitigated. Policymakers should work to achieve greater economic diversification, in order to reduce the impact of external events and foster more robust, resilient growth over the long term.

For resource-rich, developing economies, the immediate imperative is to diversify export-oriented sectors, but for the benefit of long-term sustainability, they must also look at the larger picture. A strong institutional and regulatory framework and workforce development initiatives are indispensable to the diversification effort; and proper management of human capital is key, especially in those countries experiencing a “demographic dividend.” Implementing such comprehensive diversification and riskmanagement strategies won’t be easy, but the result — a diverse, stable, and growing economy — is worth the effort.

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Resilient, stable, sustainable: The benefits of economic diversification