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Explaining the Pandemic Performance Differential

Summary:
Although a country's success in managing the COVID-19 crisis depends on many variables, there is a striking correlation between today's performance and past economic-development rankings. Countries that have consistently achieved broadly shared dynamic growth have proved far more capable of containing the first wave of the pandemic. LONDON – I recently re-read and reflected on everything I have written for Project Syndicate since the start of this year. Two commentaries, in particular, stood out. In January, I suggested that without a new surge in productivity, the world would struggle to achieve the same level of economic growth in the 2020s as it did in previous decades. Rage Against the

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Although a country's success in managing the COVID-19 crisis depends on many variables, there is a striking correlation between today's performance and past economic-development rankings. Countries that have consistently achieved broadly shared dynamic growth have proved far more capable of containing the first wave of the pandemic.

LONDON – I recently re-read and reflected on everything I have written for Project Syndicate since the start of this year. Two commentaries, in particular, stood out. In January, I suggested that without a new surge in productivity, the world would struggle to achieve the same level of economic growth in the 2020s as it did in previous decades.

Then, in February, I applauded South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards with the 2019 hit Parasite. That achievement, I concluded, was further evidence that South Korea’s economic and national growth has been one of the most interesting and compelling stories of my generation.

Little did I know that by the time the commentary was published, South Korea would already be confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, I worried that I might have jumped the gun with my praise. But now it is June, and South Korea ranks near...

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