A barrier to the diffusion of tacit knowledge
The paper examines the impact of skill transfer on economic growth. Even if there are the benefits of backwardness and the ability to absorb them, the South may not exploit them, because the skilled workers in the North are not willing to come to the South owing to their high opportunity cost. It is shown that if the South's relative income is low, the South cannot offer high wages to attract skilled workers from the North, and stays in the low rank. But if its relative income is high enough, exploiting the benefits of backwardness, it attains high growth and converges to a relatively higher position. This prediction is consistent with the evidence that the world distribution of relative income has two peaks. The study also shows that an increase in human capital in the North increases the minimum requirement for human capital in the South to soar. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.
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