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Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth

  • Daron Acemoglu

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology.)

  • Philippe Aghion

    (Harvard University.)

  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    (Institute for International Economic Studies.)

We analyze an economy where firms undertake both innovation and adoption of technologies from the world technology frontier. The selection of high-skill managers and firms is more important for innovation than for adoption. As the economy approaches the frontier, selection becomes more important. Countries at early stages of development pursue an investment-based strategy, which relies on existing firms and managers to maximize investment but sacrifices selection. Closer to the world technology frontier, economies switch to an innovation-based strategy with short-term relationships, younger firms, less investment, and better selection of firms and managers. We show that relatively backward economies may switch out of the investment-based strategy too soon, so certain policies such as limits on product market competition or investment subsidies, which encourage the investment-based strategy, may be beneficial. However, these policies may have significant long-run costs because they make it more likely that a society will be trapped in the investment-based strategy and fail to converge to the world technology frontier. (JEL: O31, O33, O38, O40, L16) Copyright (c) 2006 by the European Economic Association.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 4 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 37-74

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:4:y:2006:i:1:p:37-74
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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1996. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1426, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Peter Howitt & David Mayer-Foulkes, 2002. "R&D, Implementation and Stagnation: A Schumpeterian Theory of Convergence Clubs," NBER Working Papers 9104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hassler, J. & Rodriguez Mora, J.V., 1998. "IQ, Social Mobility and Growth," Papers 635, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  5. Joseph Zeira, 1998. "Workers, Machines, And Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1091-1117, November.
  6. Jian Tong & Chenggang Xu, 2004. "Financial Institutions and The Wealth of Nations: Tales of Development," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2004-672, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  7. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Mapping the Two Faces of R&D: Productivity Growth in a Panel of OECD Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 883-895, November.
  8. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-19, December.
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