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The Macroeconomics of Model T

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

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.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7612.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7612
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  1. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1999. "The Rise of Mass Consumption Societies," Discussion Papers 1289, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 1999. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality in the Process of Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 2307, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  11. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimueller, . "Inequality, Market Power, and Product Diversity," IEW - Working Papers 145, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. Josef Zweimüller & Johann K. Brunner, 2005. "Innovation And Growth With Rich And Poor Consumers," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 233-262, 05.
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  14. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change And Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089, November.
  15. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimüller, . "Income Distribution and Demand-induced Innovations," IEW - Working Papers 212, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  16. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt, 1990. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," NBER Working Papers 3223, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Falkinger, Josef, 1994. "An Engelian model of growth and innovation with hierarchic consumer demand and unequal incomes," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 123-139, June.
  18. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1999. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Non-homothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Discussion Papers 1241, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  19. Falkinger, Josef & Zweimuller, Josef, 1996. "The cross-country Engel curve for product diversification," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 79-97, March.
  20. Chiaki Moriguchi & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Income Concentration in Japan, 1886-2002: Evidence from Income Tax Statistics," NBER Working Papers 12558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. NAGAOKA Sadao & John P. WALSH, 2009. "The R&D Process in the U.S. and Japan: Major findings from the RIETI-Georgia Tech inventor survey," Discussion papers 09010, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
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