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Long-Term Barriers to the International Diffusion of Innovations

In: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2011

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  • Enrico Spolaore
  • Romain Wacziarg

Abstract

We document an empirical relationship between the cross-country adoption of technologies and the degree of long-term historical relatedness between human populations. Historical relatedness is measured using genetic distance, a measure of the time since two populations' last common ancestors. We find that the measure of human relatedness that is relevant to explain international technology diffusion is genetic distance relative to the world technological frontier ("relative frontier distance"). This evidence is consistent with long-term historical relatedness acting as a barrier to technology adoption: societies that are more distant from the technological frontier tend to face higher imitation costs. The results can help explain current differences in total factor productivity and income per capita across countries.
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Suggested Citation

  • Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2011. "Long-Term Barriers to the International Diffusion of Innovations," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2011, pages 11-46, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12486
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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