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Leapfrogging: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership

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  • Elise Brezis
  • Paul Krugman
  • Daniel Tsiddon

Abstract

Much recent work has suggested that endogenous technological change tends to reinforce the position of the leading nations. Yet from time to time this leadership role shifts. We suggest a mechanism that explains this pattern of -leapfrogging- as a response to occasional major changes in technology. When such a change occurs, leading nations may have no incentive to adopt the new ideas; given their extensive experience with older technologies, the new ideas do not initially seem to be an improvement. Lagging nations, however, have less experience; the new techniques offer them an opportunity to use their lower wages, to break into the market. If the new techniques eventually prove to be more productive than the old, there is a reversal of leadership.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3886.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3886.

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Date of creation: Oct 1991
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review, Vol. 83 (1993).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3886

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  1. Paul Romer, 1989. "Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 3210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1994. "Quality improvements in models of growth," Economics Working Papers 84, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Elise Brezis & Paul Krugman, 1993. "Technology and the Life Cycle of Cities," NBER Working Papers 4561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mountford, Andrew, 1999. "Trade Dynamics and Endogenous Growth: An Overlapping-Generations Analysis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 66(262), pages 209-24, May.
  4. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby, 1995. "Present at the Revolution: Transformation of Technical Identity for a Large Incumbent Pharmaceutical Firm After the Biotechnological Breakthrough," NBER Working Papers 5243, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Groot, H.L.F. de & Schaik, A.B.T.M. van, 1997. "Unemployment and catching up: Europe vis à vis the USA," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-73836, Tilburg University.
  6. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
  7. Hans W. Gottinger, 2001. "Technological Races in Global Industries (Technology Races)," CSEF Working Papers 62, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.

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