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R&D? A Small Contribution to Productivity Growth

  • Comin, D.

In this paper I calibrate the contribution of R&D investments to productivity growth. The basis for the analysis is the free entry condition. This yields a relationship between the resources devoted to R&D and the growth rate of technology. Since innovators are small, this relationship is not directly a¥ected by the size of the R&D externalities, the presence of scale effects or diminishing returns in R&D after controlling for the growth rate of output and the interest rate. The resulting contribution of R&D to productivity growth in the US is smaller than three to five tenths of one percentage point. Interestingly, this constitutes an upper bound for the case where innovators internalize the consequences of their R&D investments on the cost of conducting future innovations. From a normative perepective, this analysis implies that, if the innovation technology takes the form assumed in the literature, the actual US R&D intensity may be the socially optimal.

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Paper provided by C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University in its series Working Papers with number 02-01.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cvs:starer:02-01
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  1. Basu, Susanto, 1996. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 719-51, August.
  2. Zvi Griliches, 1991. "The Search for R&D Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 3768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ariel Pakes & Mark Schankerman, 1979. "The Rate of Obsolescence Of Knowledge, Research Gestation Lags, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," NBER Working Papers 0346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Diego Comin, 2004. "R&D: A Small Contribution to Productivity Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 391-421, December.
  5. Charles I. Jones, 2002. "Sources of U.S. Economic Growth in a World of Ideas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 220-239, March.
  6. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2135, David K. Levine.
  7. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1990. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," DELTA Working Papers 90-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  8. Jones, Charles I & Williams, John C, 2000. " Too Much of a Good Thing? The Economics of Investment in R&D," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 65-85, March.
  9. John Y. Campbell & Pierre Perron, 1991. "Pitfalls and Opportunities: What Macroeconomists Should Know About Unit Roots," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1991, Volume 6, pages 141-220 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Norrbin, S.C., 1993. "The Relation Between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry: A Contradiction," Working Papers 1993_05_04, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
  11. Ariel Pakes & Mark Schankerman, 1984. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Patents, Research Gestation Lags, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," NBER Chapters, in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 73-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Charles I. Jones & John C. Williams, 1997. "Measuring the social return to R&D," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-12, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Helios Herrera & Enrique Schroth, 2003. "Profitable Innovation Without Patent Protection: The Case of Derivatives," FAME Research Paper Series rp76, International Center for Financial Asset Management and Engineering.
  14. Mansfield, Edwin & Schwartz, Mark & Wagner, Samuel, 1981. "Imitation Costs and Patents: An Empirical Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(364), pages 907-18, December.
  15. Stokey, Nancy L, 1995. "R&D and Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(3), pages 469-89, July.
  16. Kortum, Samuel, 1993. "Equilibrium R&D and the Patent-R&D Ratio: U.S. Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 450-57, May.
  17. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  18. Nadiri, M.I., 1993. "Innovations and Technological Spillovers," Working Papers 93-31, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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