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How trade patterns and technology flows affect productivity growth

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  • Keller, Wolfgang

Abstract

Earlier studies of spillovers from international research and development (R&D) suggest how economies benefit from R&D conducted abroad. To the extent that countries importing new technologies do not pay in full for the increased variety in intermediate inputs in production, they are reaping an external, or spillover, effect. The author analyzes a particular mechanism through which economies benefit from foreign R&D. The author estimates the extent to which a country benefits from imports of intermediategoods that embody new technology -- the result of foreign investments in R&D. He distinguishes this mechanism from others unrelated to international trade. Using industry-level data for eight OECD countries (Sweden and the G-7 countries) between 1970 and 1991, he estimates the underlying model of trade and growth. This empirical analysis leads to several findings about spillovers from international R&D. First, the productivity effects of foreign R&D vary substantially, depending on which country is conducting the R&D. The quality of newly created technology varies. Second, as a factor influencing productivity, a country's own R&D is more important than that of the average foreign country. It is difficult to separate the effect of importing intermediate goods with embodied technology from a more general spillover effect; often both are present. Third, in the author's sample of industrial countries, international trade contributes about 20 percent of the total effect on productivity from foreign R&D investments. The author conjectures that this effect could be higher for less industrialized countries importing from OECD countries, but stresses that alternative mechanisms (such as foreign direct investment) should be included when estimating the effects of international trade in the international diffusion of technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1831.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 1997
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1831

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Keywords: Payment Systems&Infrastructure; Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Theory&Research; Scientific Research&Science Parks; Agricultural Knowledge&Information Systems; Economic Theory&Research; Science Education; Scientific Research&Science Parks; Research and Development; Environmental Economics&Policies;

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  1. Coe, David T & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "International R&D Spillovers," CEPR Discussion Papers 840, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Luis A. Rivera-Batiz & Paul M. Romer, 1992. "International Trade with Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 3594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Frank Lichtenberg & Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 1996. "International R&D Spillovers: A Re-Examination," NBER Working Papers 5668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rivera-Batiz, Luis A & Romer, Paul M, 1991. "Economic Integration and Endogenous Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 531-55, May.
  5. Coe, David T & Helpman, Elhanan & Hoffmaister, Alexander, 1995. "North-South R&D Spillovers," CEPR Discussion Papers 1133, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Keller, Wolfgang, 1998. "Are international R&D spillovers trade-related?: Analyzing spillovers among randomly matched trade partners," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(8), pages 1469-1481, September.
  7. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1989. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 8904, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  8. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
  9. M. Ishaq Nadiri, 1993. "Innovations and Technological Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 4423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jeffrey I. Bernstein & Pierre Mohnen, 1994. "International R & D Spillovers between U.S. and Japanese R & D intensive sectors," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 9406, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
  11. Park, Walter G, 1995. "International R&D Spillovers and OECD Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(4), pages 571-91, October.
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