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The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development

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  • Michael Kremer

Abstract

This paper proposes a production function describing processes subject to mistakes in any of several tasks. It shows that high-skill workers—those who make few mistakes—will be matched together in equilibrium, and that wages and output will rise steeply in skill. The model is consistent with large income differences between countries, the predominance of small firms in poor countries, and the positive correlation between the wages of workers in different occupations within enterprises. Imperfect observability of skill leads to imperfect matching and thus to spillovers, strategic complementarity, and multiple equilibria in education.

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  • Michael Kremer, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-575.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:3:p:551-575.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/2118400
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dechert, W. Davis & Nishimura, Kazuo, 1983. "A complete characterization of optimal growth paths in an aggregated model with a non-concave production function," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 332-354, December.
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    4. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1991. "The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 503-530.
    5. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    6. Bulow, Jeremy I & Geanakoplos, John D & Klemperer, Paul D, 1985. "Multimarket Oligopoly: Strategic Substitutes and Complements," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 488-511, June.
    7. Sobel, Joel, 1992. "How to Count to One Thousand," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(410), pages 1-8, January.
    8. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-1059, October.
    9. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    10. Sattinger, Michael, 1975. "Comparative Advantage and the Distributions of Earnings and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 455-468, May.
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