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R&D Investment and International Productivity Differences

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  • Frank R. Lichtenberg

Abstract

This paper extends previous research on the effect of investment on labor productivity at the country level by accounting for investment in R&D, as well as for investment in fixed and human capital. Privately-funded R&D investment is found to have a significant positive effect on productivity. Moreover, this effect appears to be quite large. The estimated social (national) rate of return to private R&D investment is about seven times as large as the return to investment in equipment and structures. The elasticity of GNP with respect to the privately-funded research capital stock is about 7 %--about 1(3 as large as the physical-capital elasticity (whose estimate is substantially reduced when R&D is accounted for). These findings do not support the hypothesis that there arecomplete, or at least instantaneous, international R&D spillovers. The social marginal product of government-funded research capital appears to be much lower than that of private research capital.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4161.

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Date of creation: Sep 1992
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Publication status: published as Economic Growth in the World Economy, Symposium 1992, edited by Horst Siebert, pp. 89-110.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4161

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  1. Paul M. Romer, 1987. "Crazy Explanations for the Productivity Slowdown," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 163-210 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hall, Bronwyn H., 1992. "Investment and Research and Development at the Firm Level: Does the Source of Financing Matter?," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley qt5j59j6x3, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  4. Charles P. Himmelberg & Bruce C. Petersen, 1991. "R&D and internal finance: a panel study of small firms in high-tech industries," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago 91-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, . "Equipment Investment and Economic Growth," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department _122, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
  6. Jacques Mairesse & Mohamed Sassenou, 1991. "R&D Productivity: A Survey of Econometric Studies at the Firm Level," NBER Working Papers 3666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1988. "The Private R&D Investment Response to Federal Design and Technical Competitions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 550-59, June.
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