Watch: 2022 Corden Public Lecture

Emeritus Professor Kym Anderson AC presented the 2022 Corden Public Lecture at the Copland Theatre, University of Melbourne, on Thursday 13 October 2022.

Structural Transformation in Growing Open Economies: Australia’s Experience

Presented by Emeritus Professor Kym Anderson AC, University of Adelaide, and ANU - Copland Theatre, Thursday 13 October 2022

Professor Kym Anderson spoke about how structural transformations in growing economies, has been analysed empirically for nearly a century, focusing on sectoral shares of national GDP and employment but giving little attention to exports. He noted the decline of primary sectors as manufacturing expands, and then the relative decline also of manufacturing as services increasingly dominate each advanced economy’s GDP and employment as incomes rise. This lecture compared evidence of trends in those sectoral shares in Australia over the past 180 years with those of other advanced economies.

Australia’s experience is unusual in several respects, explanations for which suggest both positive and negative lessons for less-advanced resource-rich economies. Part of its exceptionalism has to do with Australia’s trade policy choices, which encouraged manufacturing relative to primary production (especially mining) through much of the 20th century. The lecture concluded by questioning how society’s evolving environmental objectives at home and abroad, and recent influences on globalization, might alter the structural transformation of Australia’s economy in coming decades.