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An age structured demographic theory of technological change

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  • J. -F. Mercure

Abstract

At the heart of technology transitions lie complex processes of social and industrial dynamics. The quantitative study of sustainability transitions requires modelling work, which necessitates a theory of technology substitution. Many, if not most, contemporary modelling approaches for future technology pathways overlook most aspects of transitions theory, for instance dimensions of heterogenous investor choices, dynamic rates of diffusion and the profile of transitions. A significant body of literature however exists that demonstrates how transitions follow S-shaped diffusion curves or Lotka-Volterra systems of equations. This framework is used ex-post since timescales can only be reliably obtained in cases where the transitions have already occurred, precluding its use for studying cases of interest where nascent innovations in protective niches await favourable conditions for their diffusion. Scaling parameters of transitions can in principle be derived from industrial dynamics, technology turnover rates and technology characteristics. In this context, this paper presents a theory framework for calculating the parameterisation of S-shaped diffusion curves for use in simulation models of technology transitions without the involvement of historical data fitting, making use of standard demography theory applied to technology at the unit level. The classic Lotka-Volterra competition system emerges from first principles from demography theory, its timescales explained in terms of technology lifetimes and industrial dynamics. The theory is discussed in the context of the multi-level perspective on technology transitions, where innovation and the diffusion of new socio-technical regimes take a prominent place, offering a bridge between qualitative and quantitative descriptions.

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File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1304.3602
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Paper provided by arXiv.org in its series Papers with number 1304.3602.

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Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision: Nov 2013
Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1304.3602

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Web page: http://arxiv.org/

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  1. Jean-Francois Mercure, 2012. "On the changeover timescales of technology transitions and induced efficiency changes: an overarching theory," Papers 1209.0424, arXiv.org.
  2. Mercure, Jean-Fran├žois, 2012. "FTT:Power : A global model of the power sector with induced technological change and natural resource depletion," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 799-811.
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Cited by:
  1. Mercure, Jean-Fran├žois & Salas, Pablo, 2013. "On the global economic potentials and marginal costs of non-renewable resources and the price of energy commodities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 469-483.

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