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Empirical confirmation of creative destruction from world trade data


  • Peter Klimek
  • Ricardo Hausmann
  • Stefan Thurner


We show that world trade network datasets contain empirical evidence that the dynamics of innovation in the world economy follows indeed the concept of creative destruction, as proposed by J.A. Schumpeter more than half a century ago. National economies can be viewed as complex, evolving systems, driven by a stream of appearance and disappearance of goods and services. Products appear in bursts of creative cascades. We find that products systematically tend to co-appear, and that product appearances lead to massive disappearance events of existing products in the following years. The opposite - disappearances followed by periods of appearances - is not observed. This is an empirical validation of the dominance of cascading competitive replacement events on the scale of national economies, i.e. creative destruction. We find a tendency that more complex products drive out less complex ones, i.e. progress has a direction. Finally we show that the growth trajectory of a country's product output diversity can be understood by a recently proposed evolutionary model of Schumpeterian economic dynamics.

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  • Peter Klimek & Ricardo Hausmann & Stefan Thurner, 2011. "Empirical confirmation of creative destruction from world trade data," Papers 1112.2984,
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1112.2984

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eric J. Bartelsman & John Haltiwanger & Stefano Scarpetta, 2004. "Microeconomic Evidence of Creative Destruction in Industrial and Developing Countries," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-114/3, Tinbergen Institute.
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    6. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth through Creative Destruction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 323-351, March.
    7. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 1996. "On the Timing and Efficiency of Creative Destruction," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 805-852.
    8. Ricardo Hausmann & César Hidalgo, 2011. "The network structure of economic output," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 309-342, December.
    9. Rebelo, Sergio, 1991. "Long-Run Policy Analysis and Long-Run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 500-521, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Salvador Pueyo, 2014. "Ecological Econophysics for Degrowth," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(6), pages 1-53, May.
    2. Klimek, Peter & Poledna, Sebastian & Doyne Farmer, J. & Thurner, Stefan, 2015. "To bail-out or to bail-in? Answers from an agent-based model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 144-154.
    3. Orazio Angelini & Matthieu Cristelli & Andrea Zaccaria & Luciano Pietronero, 2016. "The complex dynamics of products and its asymptotic properties," Papers 1610.00274,, revised May 2017.
    4. Eduardo Lora, 2016. "The Path to Labor Formality: Urban Agglomeration and the Emergence of Complex Industries," CID Working Papers 78, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    5. Freire Junior, Clovis, 2017. "Economic diversification: Explaining the pattern of diversification in the global economy and its implications for fostering diversification in poorer countries," MERIT Working Papers 033, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    6. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2014. "An interpretation and critique of the Method of Reflections," MPRA Paper 60705, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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