We use a newly assembled sample of 1,528 regions from 83 countries to compare the speed of per capita income convergence within and across countries. Regional growth is shaped by similar factors as national growth, such as geography and human capital. Regional convergence rate is about 2% per year, comparable to that between countries. Regional convergence is faster in richer countries, and countries with better capital markets. A calibration of a neoclassical growth model suggests that significant barriers to factor mobility within countries are needed to account for the evidence.
We investigate the determinants of regional development using a newly constructed database of 1569 sub-national regions from 110 countries covering 74 percent of the world’s surface and 96 percent of its GDP. We combine the cross-regional analysis of geographic, institutional, cultural, and human capital determinants of regional development with an examination of productivity in several thousand establishments located in these regions. To organize the discussion, we present a new model of regional development that introduces into a standard migration framework elements of both the Lucas (1978) model of the allocation of talent between entrepreneurship and work, and the Lucas (1988) model of human capital externalities. The evidence points to the paramount importance of human capital in accounting for regional differences in development, but also suggests from model estimation and calibration that entrepreneurial inputs and human capital externalities are essential for understanding the data.