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The Macroeconomics of Model T

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  • Foellmi, Reto
  • Wuergler, Tobias
  • Zweimüller, Josef

Abstract

We study a model of endogenous growth where firms invest both in product and process innovations. Product innovations (that open up completely new product lines) satisfy the advanced wants of the rich. Subsequent process innovations (that decrease costs per unit of quality) transform the luxurious products of the rich into conveniences of the poor. A prototypical example for such a product cycle is the automobile. Initially an exclusive product for the very rich, the automobile became affordable to the middle class after the introduction of Ford's Model T, the car that "put America on wheels". We show that an egalitarian society creates strong incentives for process innovations (such as the Model T) whereas an unequal society creates strong incentives for product innovations (new luxuries). We show that the inequality-growth relationship depends on which type of innovative activity drives technical progress, analyzing both the characteristics of and the transition to the balanced growth path.

Suggested Citation

  • Foellmi, Reto & Wuergler, Tobias & Zweimüller, Josef, 2009. "The Macroeconomics of Model T," CEPR Discussion Papers 7612, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7612
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Inequality & innovation
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-12-21 20:43:33

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    Cited by:

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    2. Latzer, Hélène, 2018. "A Schumpeterian theory of multi-quality firms," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 766-802.
    3. Sirine MNIF, 2016. "Bilateral Relationship between Technological Changes and Income Inequality in Developing Countries," Economic Analysis Working Papers (2002-2010). Atlantic Review of Economics (2011-2016), Colexio de Economistas de A Coruña, Spain and Fundación Una Galicia Moderna, vol. 1, pages 1-1, June.
    4. Alain Desdoigts & Fernando Jaramillo, 2020. "Bounded Learning by Doing, Inequality, and Multi-Sector Growth: A Middle-Class Perspective," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 36, pages 198-219, April.
    5. Diego Comin & Danial Lashkari & Martí Mestieri, 2021. "Structural Change With Long‐Run Income and Price Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 89(1), pages 311-374, January.
    6. Ulrich Schetter & Adrian Jäggi & Maik T. Schneider, 2021. "Inequality, Openness, and Growth through Creative Destruction," CID Working Papers 130a, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    7. Sirine MNIF, 2017. "The Impact of Inequality on Growth Driven by Technological Changes: a Panel of Developing Countries," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 8(1), pages 127-140, March.
    8. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimüller, 2017. "Is inequality harmful for innovation and growth? Price versus market size effects," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 359-378, April.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    growth; inequality; mass production; process innovations; product innovations; technical change;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General

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