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Lobbies and Technology Diffusion

  • Diego Comin

    (Harvard University and NBER)

  • Bart Hobijn

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

This paper explores whether lobbies slow down technology diffusion. To answer this question, we exploit the differential effect of various institutional attributes that should affect the costs of erecting barriers when the new technology has a technologically close predecessor but not otherwise. We implement this test using a data set that covers the diffusion of twenty technologies for 23 countries over the past two centuries. We find that each of the relevant institutional variables that affect the costs of erecting barriers has a significantly larger effect on the diffusion of technologies with a competing predecessor technology than when no such technology exists. These effects are quantitatively important. Thus, we conclude that lobbies are an important barrier to technology adoption and to development. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 91 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 229-244

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:91:y:2009:i:2:p:229-244
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  1. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2004. "Cross-country technology adoption: making the theories face the facts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 39-83, January.
  2. Holmes, Thomas J. & Jr., James A. Schmitz, 2001. "A gain from trade: From unproductive to productive entrepreneurship," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 417-446, April.
  3. Krusell, P. & Rios-Rull, J.V., 1993. "Vested Interests in a Positive Theory of Stagnation and Growth," Papers 547, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  4. James A. Robinson & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Political Losers as a Barrier to Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 126-130, May.
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