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Long-Term Barriers to the International Diffusion of Innovations

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  • Spolaore, Enrico
  • Wacziarg, Romain

Abstract

We document an empirical relationship between the cross-country adoption of technologies and the degree of long-term historical relatedness between human populations. Historical relatedness is measured using genetic distance, a measure of the time since two populations’ last common ancestors. We find that the measure of human relatedness that is relevant to explain international technology diffusion is genetic distance relative to the world technological frontier (“relative frontier distance”). This evidence is consistent with long-term historical relatedness acting as a barrier to technology adoption: societies that are more distant from the technological frontier tend to face higher imitation costs. The results can help explain current differences in total factor productivity and income per capita across countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8541.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8541

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Keywords: genetic distance; technological adoption; technological frontier; total factor productivity;

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References

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  1. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2009. "The Diffusion of Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 469-529, May.
  2. Diego Comin & Bart Hobiijn, 2006. "An Exploration of Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 12314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
  4. Liwa Rachel Ngai, 2000. "Barriers and the Transition to Modern Growth," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1578, Econometric Society.
  5. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995. "Technological Diffusion, Convergence, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Diego Comin & William Easterly & Erick Gong, 2010. "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 65-97, July.
  7. Parente, Stephen L & Prescott, Edward C, 1994. "Barriers to Technology Adoption and Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 298-321, April.
  8. Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio, 2002. "Fractionalization," Research Papers 1744, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  9. Jan Fagerberg, 2003. "Innovation: A Guide to the Literature," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20031012, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
  10. Diego A. Comin & Bart Hobijn, 2009. "The CHAT Dataset," Harvard Business School Working Papers 10-035, Harvard Business School.
  11. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2010. "Development Accounting," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 207-23, January.
  12. Diego A. Comin & Bart Hobijn & Emilie Rovito, 2006. "World Technology Usage Lags," NBER Working Papers 12677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Diego A. Comin & Martí Mestieri, 2010. "An Intensive Exploration of Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 16379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Spolaore, Enrico & Wacziarg, Romain, 2012. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8998, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Spolaore, Enrico & Wacziarg, Romain, 2013. "Long-Term Barriers to Economic Development," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 149, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  3. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation, and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations," Center for Development Economics 2011-10, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  4. Ideen A. Riahi, 2013. "Colonization and Genetics of Comparative Development," Discussion Papers dp13-11, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, revised 29 Oct 2013.
  5. Campbell, Douglas L. & Pyun, Ju Hyun, 2014. "The Diffusion of Development: Along Genetic or Geographic Lines?," MPRA Paper 57933, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Sequeira, Tiago & Santos, Marcelo & Ferreira-Lopes, Alexandra, 2013. "Why Inventions Occurred in Some Countries and Not in Others?," MPRA Paper 51553, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Enrico Spolaore, 2012. "The Economics of Political Borders," CESifo Working Paper Series 3854, CESifo Group Munich.

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