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Distance to frontier, intellectual property rights, and economic growth


  • Haibin Wu


This article examines the effects of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection on growth and convergence. Firms in a country undertake both innovation and imitation to improve their productivity. IPR protection reduces the cost of innovation, but makes imitation more costly. Countries at early stages of growth adopt a strategy of high effort on imitation, and switch to the strategy of high effort on innovation at some point. A higher degree of IPR protection makes the switch to the strategy of high effort on innovation earlier. There are two possible growth traps. A middle-income trap arises when a country fails to switch to high effort on innovation due to a low degree of IPR protection. Whereas a poverty trap may exist at the early stage of development, when there is no enough effort on imitation due to a strict IPR protection.

Suggested Citation

  • Haibin Wu, 2010. "Distance to frontier, intellectual property rights, and economic growth," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 165-183.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ecinnt:v:19:y:2010:i:2:p:165-183 DOI: 10.1080/10438590802551227

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mónica L. Azevedo & Óscar Afonso & Sandra T. Silva, 2013. "Endogenous growth and intellectual property rights: a North-South modelling proposal," FEP Working Papers 492, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    2. Chu, Angus C. & Cozzi, Guido & Galli, Silvia, 2014. "Stage-dependent intellectual property rights," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 239-249.
    3. Azevedo, Mónica L. & Afonso, Óscar & Silva, Sandra T., 2014. "Endogenous growth and intellectual property rights: A north–south modeling proposal," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 112-120.


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