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Detecting Technological Catch-Up in Economic Convergence

  • Francesco Pigliaru

We address the problem of measuring, in the absence of reliable indices of technology levels, how much of the convergence we observe is due to convergence in technology or in capital-labour ratios. We first develop a growth model where technology accumulation in lagging economies depends on their propensity to innovate and on technological spillovers, with convergence due both to capital-deepening and to technological diffusion. Then we study the transitional dynamics of the model to show how to discriminate empirically between the following three hypotheses: (i) convergence is due to capital-deepening with technology levels uniform across economies, as in Mankiw, Romer and Weil; (ii) convergence is due to capital-deepening with stationary differences in individual technologies, as in Islam; (iii) convergence is due to both technological catch-up and capital-deepening. Our main findings are as follows. First, we show that it may be difficult to distinguish between hypotheses (ii) and (iii) in cross-section or panel data. This problem has often been overlooked in the empirical literature on convergence. Second, we suggest how the problem can be overcome by noting that hypothesis (iii) does (and hypothesis (ii) does not) imply that the initial differences in technology levels may tend to decrease over time. A careful analysis of the fixed-effects estimates obtained by means of panel data methodology proposed in Islam should allow researchers to discriminate between the two competing hypotheses. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Metroeconomica.

Volume (Year): 54 (2003)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (05)
Pages: 161-178

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Handle: RePEc:bla:metroe:v:54:y:2003:i:2-3:p:161-178
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  1. Maurizio Pugno, 1993. "On Competing Theories of Economic Growth: a Cross-country Evidence," Department of Economics Working Papers 9309, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  2. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1994. "The role of human capital in economic development evidence from aggregate cross-country data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 143-173, October.
  3. Jan Fagerberg & Bart Verspagen & Marjolein Cani�ls, 1997. "Technology, Growth and Unemployment across European Regions," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(5), pages 457-466.
  4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sala-i-martin, X. & Barro, R.J., 1995. "technological Diffusion, Convergence and Growth," Papers 735, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  6. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  7. Kevin Lee & M. Hashem Pesaran & Ron Smith, 1998. "Growth Empirics: A Panel Data Approach- A Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 319-323, February.
  8. Nazrul Islam, 1998. "Growth Empirics: A Panel Data Approach- A Reply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 325-329, February.
  9. Islam, Nazrul, 1995. "Growth Empirics: A Panel Data Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1127-70, November.
  10. Richard R. Nelson & Edmond S. Phelps, 1965. "Investment in Humans, Technological Diffusion and Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 189, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  11. Durlauf,S.N. & Quah,D.T., 1998. "The new empirics of economic growth," Working papers 3, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  12. Bernard, Andrew B & Jones, Charles I, 1996. "Technology and Convergence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 1037-44, July.
  13. Charles I. Jones, . "Convergence Revisited," Working Papers 96006, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
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