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Will Technological Change Save the World? The Rebound Effect in International Transfers of Technology

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  • Mare Sarr

    () (University of Cape Town)

  • Tim Swanson

    () (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies)

Abstract

Abstract Technological change and its transfer to developing countries is often portrayed by policy-makers as a critical part of the solution to a resource problem such as climate change, based on the assumption that the transfer of resource-conserving technologies to developing countries will result in reduced use of natural capital by those countries. We demonstrate here, in a capital conversion based model of development, that the free transfer of resource-conserving technologies to developing countries will increase the options available to those countries, but that the way that they expend these options need not be in the direction of conserving resources. This is another example of the potential for a rebound effect to determine ultimate outcomes, here in the context of international technology transfer policy. The transfer of technologies is as likely to simply move developing countries more rapidly down the same development path as it is to alter the choices they make along that path. For this reason, the transfer of resource-conserving technologies, without incentives provided to alter development priorities, may not result in any resource-conservation at all.

Suggested Citation

  • Mare Sarr & Tim Swanson, 2017. "Will Technological Change Save the World? The Rebound Effect in International Transfers of Technology," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 66(3), pages 577-604, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:66:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0093-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-016-0093-4
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Technological change; Rebound effect; Development path;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O39 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Other
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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