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Technological Change and the Wealth of Nations


  • Gino Gancia
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    () (CREI and Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
    Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich, CH-8006 Zürich, Switzerland)


We discuss a unified theory of directed technological change and technology adoption that can shed light on the causes of persistent productivity differences across countries. In our model, new technologies are designed in advanced countries and diffuse endogenously to less developed countries. Our framework is rich enough to highlight three broad reasons for productivity differences: inappropriate technologies, policy-induced barriers to technology adoption, and within-country misallocations across sectors due to policy distortions. We also discuss the effects of two aspects of globalization, trade in goods and migration, on the wealth of nations through their impact on the direction of technical progress. By doing so, we illustrate some of the equalizing and unequalizing forces of globalization.

Suggested Citation

  • Gino Gancia & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2009. "Technological Change and the Wealth of Nations," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 93-120, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:1:y:2009:p:93-120

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Raul Santaeulalia-Llopis & Diego Restuccia, 2014. "Land Misallocation and Productivity," 2014 Meeting Papers 1314, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. repec:eee:dyncon:v:87:y:2018:i:c:p:74-93 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Epifani, Paolo & Gancia, Gino, 2011. "Trade, markup heterogeneity and misallocations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-13, January.
    4. Chu, Angus C. & Cozzi, Guido & Furukawa, Yuichi, 2016. "Unions, innovation and cross-country wage inequality," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 104-118.
    5. Growiec, Jakub & McAdam, Peter & Mućk, Jakub, 2018. "Endogenous labor share cycles: Theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 74-93.
    6. Acemoglu, Daron & Gancia, Gino & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2012. "Competing engines of growth: Innovation and standardization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 570-601.3.
    7. Chu, Angus C. & Cozzi, Guido & Furukawa, Yuichi, 2014. "Labor Unions, Directed Technical Change and Cross-Country Income Inequality," MPRA Paper 58886, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Marinko Škare & Daniel Tomic, 2014. "Examining the Link between Innovation, Productivity and Growth: a Global View," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 16(36), pages 606-606, May.
    9. Harald Fadinger & Karin Mayr, 2014. "Skill-Biased Technological Change, Unemployment, And Brain Drain," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 397-431, April.
    10. Michele Battisti & Filippo Belloc & Massimo Del Gatto, 2017. "Technology-specific Production Functions," Working Paper series 17-26, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    11. Ewa Lechman, 2012. "Technology convergence and digital divides. A country-level evidence for the period 2000–2010," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 31.
    12. Gino Gancia & Andreas Müller & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2010. "Structural Development Accounting," Working Papers 494, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    13. Ewa Lechman, 2013. "Does Technology Adoption Matter For Economic Development? An Empirical Evidence For Latin American Countries," GUT FME Working Paper Series A 17, Faculty of Management and Economics, Gdansk University of Technology.
    14. Angus Chu & Guido Cozzi & Yuichi Furukawa, 2015. "Effects of Economic Development in China on Skill-Biased Technical Change in the US," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(2), pages 227-242, April.
    15. Daron Acemoglu & Gino Gancia & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2015. "Offshoring and Directed Technical Change," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 84-122, July.
    16. Ewa Lechman, 2013. "ICTs diffusion trajectories and economic development – an empirical evidence for 46 developing countries," GUT FME Working Paper Series A 18, Faculty of Management and Economics, Gdansk University of Technology.
    17. Ewa, Lechman, 2012. "Cross national technology convergence. An empirical study for the period 2000-2010," MPRA Paper 37442, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Schiopu, Ioana, 2015. "Technology adoption, human capital formation and income differences," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 318-335.
    19. Jerzmanowski, Michal & Tamura, Robert, 2017. "Directed Technological Change & Cross Country Income Differences: A Quantitative Analysis," MPRA Paper 80582, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    technology adoption; directed technical change; inappropriate technologies; globalization; skill bias; TFP differences;

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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