Nonlinearities in productivity growth: A semi-parametric panel analysis
We use country panel data spanning over 1998–2008 for both developed and developing countries to study the productivity growth when countries are close to the technology frontier. Relying on a semi-parametric generalized additive model, we estimate both reduced and structural forms for total factor productivity growth. We consider three measurements of frontier: the economy with the highest level of productivity growth, the world productivity growth and the productivity growth of the USA. We obtain a U-shape relation between productivity growth and the proximity to the world productivity growth. The relation between productivity growth and human capital displays an inverted U-shape form (res. U-shape) when the proximity to the highest productivity growth is used (res. the proximity to productivity growth of the USA). Total staff in R&D has an inverted W-shape effect on productivity growth. The share of R&D expenditure funded by government and from abroad impact positively the growth of productivity. However, the increase in government spending on R&D has a greater impact on productivity growth when the former is weak, and a smaller impact when R&D spending is already high. International trade has a positive effect on productivity growth. Specification tests show that our semi-parametric models provide a better approximation of the data compared to the parametric analogue, revealing a high degree of nonlinearity governing productivity growth.
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