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Economic Development as Self-Discovery

  • Hausmann, Ricardo

    (Harvard U)

  • Rodrik, Dani

    (Harvard U)

In the presence of uncertainty about what a country can be good at producing, there can be great social value to discovering costs of domestic activities because such discoveries can be easily imitated. We develop a general-equilibrium framework for a small open economy to clarify the analytical and normative issues. We highlight two failures of the laissez-faire outcome: there is too little investment and entrepreneurship ex ante, and too much production diversification ex post. Optimal policy consists of counteracting these distortions: to encourage investments in the modern sector ex ante, but to rationalize production ex post. We provide some informal evidence on the building blocks of our model.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp02-023.

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Date of creation: May 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp02-023
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  1. Easterly, William & Loayza, Norman & Montiel, Peter, 1997. "Has Latin America's post-reform growth been disappointing?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3-4), pages 287-311, November.
  2. Eduardo Lora & Ugo Panizza, 2002. "Structural Reforms in Latin America under Scrutiny," Research Department Publications 4301, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  3. Eduardo Fernández-Arias & Peter Montiel, 2002. "Reform and Growth in Latin America: All Pain, No Gain?," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-06, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  4. Eduardo Lora, 2001. "Structural reforms in Latin America: What has been reformed and how to measure it?," Research Department Publications 4287, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  5. Mukand, Sharun W. & Rodrik, Dani, 2002. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation and Economic Performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 3525, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Jorg Mayer & Adrian Wood, 2001. "South Asia's Export Structure in a Comparative Perspective," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 5-29.
  7. Zeira, Joseph, 1987. "Investment as a Process of Search," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 204-10, February.
  8. David N. Weil, 1996. "Appropriate Technology and Growth," Working Papers 96-24, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  9. Wood, Adrian & Mayer, Jorg, 2001. "Africa's Export Structure in a Comparative Perspective," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 369-94, May.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2002. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 3467, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Rauch, J E & Watson, Joel, 2001. "Entrepreneurship in International Trade," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt1qx2x540, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  12. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2000. "The World Technology Frontier," NBER Working Papers 7904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Evenson, Robert E. & Westphal, Larry E., 1995. "Technological change and technology strategy," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 37, pages 2209-2299 Elsevier.
  14. Hoff, Karla, 1997. "Bayesian learning in an infant industry model," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3-4), pages 409-436, November.
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