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Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth

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  • Daron Acemoglu

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology.)

  • Philippe Aghion

    (Harvard University.)

  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    (Institute for International Economic Studies.)

Abstract

We analyze an economy where firms undertake both innovation and adoption of technologies from the world technology frontier. The selection of high-skill managers and firms is more important for innovation than for adoption. As the economy approaches the frontier, selection becomes more important. Countries at early stages of development pursue an investment-based strategy, which relies on existing firms and managers to maximize investment but sacrifices selection. Closer to the world technology frontier, economies switch to an innovation-based strategy with short-term relationships, younger firms, less investment, and better selection of firms and managers. We show that relatively backward economies may switch out of the investment-based strategy too soon, so certain policies such as limits on product market competition or investment subsidies, which encourage the investment-based strategy, may be beneficial. However, these policies may have significant long-run costs because they make it more likely that a society will be trapped in the investment-based strategy and fail to converge to the world technology frontier. (JEL: O31, O33, O38, O40, L16) Copyright (c) 2006 by the European Economic Association.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 4 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 37-74

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:4:y:2006:i:1:p:37-74

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  1. Zeira, Joseph, 1995. "Workers, Machines and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1139, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  3. Tong, Jian & Xu, Cheng-Gang, 2004. "Financial Institutions and the Wealth of Nations: Tales of Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 4348, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Hassler, John & Mora , José V. Rodríguez, 1998. "IQ, Social Mobility and Growth," Seminar Papers 635, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  5. Howitt, Peter & Mayer-Foulkes, David, 2005. "R&D, Implementation, and Stagnation: A Schumpeterian Theory of Convergence Clubs," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(1), pages 147-77, February.
  6. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-19, December.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 1994. "Was Prometheus unbound by chance? Risk, diversification and growth," Economics Working Papers 98, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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