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Catch-Up and Leapfrog Between The USA and Japan

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  • Cameron, G.

Abstract

The growth process for a technological leader is different from that of a follower. While followers can grow through imitation and capital deepening, a leader must undertake original research. This suggests that as the gap between the leader and the follower narrows, the follower must undertake more formal R&D and possibly face a slower overall growth rate. This paper examines these ideas by discussing some simple models of technological catch-up and convergence and then applying them to the relative growth experiences of US and Japanese manufacturing. We construct measures of relative total factor productivity for eleven Japanese manufacturing industries and test whether a smaller productivity gap leads to slower growth, and whether R&D takes over as the engine of growth as Japan approaches the technological frontier. Our results suggests that Japanese and US productivity have been growing at similar rates since the mid-1970s, and that some of the Japanese growth slowdown is attributable to the exhaustion of imitation possibilities. Furthermore, since Japanese total factor productivity growth is faster than US growth before the mid-1970s, our results cast doubt on much of the cross-section convergence literature that assumes similar technology parameters across countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Economics Papers with number 148.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nuf:econwp:148

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Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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Keywords: INNOVATIONS ; RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ; HUMAN RESOURCES;

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Cited by:
  1. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & Helen Simpson, 2004. "Foreign ownership and productivity: new evidence from the service sector and the R&D lab," IFS Working Papers, Institute for Fiscal Studies W04/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & Helen Simpson, 2003. "Productivity Convergence and Foreign Ownership at the Establishment Level," CEP Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE dp0573, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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