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Cross-Country Technology Adoption: Making the Theories Face the Facts

  • Comin, D.
  • Hobijn, B.

We examine the diffusion of more than twenty technologies across twenty-three of the world ’s leading industrial economies. Our evidence covers major technology classes such as textile production, steel manufacture, communications, information technology, transportation, and electricity for the period 1788-2001. We document the common patterns observed in the diffusion of this broad range of technologies. Our results suggest a pattern of trickle-down diffusion that is remarkably robust across technologies. Most of the technologies that we consider originate in advanced economies and are adopted there first. Subsequently, they trickle down to countries that lag economically. Our panel data analysis indicates that the most important determinants of the speed at which a country adopts technologies are the country’s human capital endowment, type of government, degree of openness to trade, and adoption of predecessor technologies. We also find that the overall rate of diffusion has increased markedly since World War II because of the convergence in these variables across countries.

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Paper provided by C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University in its series Working Papers with number 03-04.

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Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cvs:starer:03-04
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Web page: http://econ.as.nyu.edu/object/econ.cvstarr.html
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  1. Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 2001. "Transition dynamics in vintage capital models: explaining the postwar catch-up of Germany and Japan," Working Papers 01-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  2. Chari, V V & Hopenhayn, Hugo, 1991. "Vintage Human Capital, Growth, and the Diffusion of New Technology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1142-65, December.
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  7. Daron Acemoglu & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2001. "Productivity Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 563-606, May.
  8. Parente, Stephen L & Prescott, Edward C, 1994. "Barriers to Technology Adoption and Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 298-321, April.
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  10. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995. "Technological diffusion, convergence and growth," Economics Working Papers 116, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  11. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
  12. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
  13. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 1997. "Monopoly rights: a barrier to riches," Staff Report 236, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  18. Ali Bayar & Carlos Martines-Mongay & Paul De Boer & Bart Hobijn & Mehmet Teoman Pamukcu, 2001. "Did trade liberalization induce a structural break in imports of manufactures in Turkey?," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/13518, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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