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An Exploration of Technology Diffusion

  • Diego A. Comin

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit)

  • Bart Hobijn

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

We develop a model that, at the aggregate level, is similar to the one sector neoclassical growth model, while, at the disaggregate level, has implications for the path of observable measures of technology adoption. We estimate our model using data on the diffusion of 15 technologies in 166 countries over the last two centuries. We evaluate the implications of our estimates for aggregate TFP and per capita income. Our results reveal that, on average, countries have adopted technologies 47 years after their invention. There is substantial variation across technologies and countries. Over the past two centuries, newer technologies have been adopted faster than old ones. The cross-country variation in the adoption of technologies accounts for at least a quarter of per capita income differences.

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File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/08-093.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2008
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Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 08-093.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:08-093
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  1. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2004. "Cross-country technology adoption: making the theories face the facts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 39-83, January.
  2. Robert C. Feenstra, 1995. "Exact Hedonic Price Indexes," NBER Working Papers 5061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jonathan Skinner & Douglas Staiger, 2007. "Technology Adoption from Hybrid Corn to Beta-Blockers," NBER Chapters, in: Hard-to-Measure Goods and Services: Essays in Honor of Zvi Griliches, pages 545-570 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2001. "Cross-Country Technology Diffusion: The Case of Computers," NBER Working Papers 8130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
  6. Chang-Tai Hsieh, 2002. "What Explains the Industrial Revolution in East Asia? Evidence From the Factor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 502-526, June.
  7. Susanto Basu & David N. Weil, 1996. "Appropriate Technology and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. J. Bradford De Long, . "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: Comment," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers _129, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
  9. Doms, Mark & Dunne, Timothy & Troske, Kenneth R, 1997. "Workers, Wages, and Technology," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 253-90, February.
  10. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z. & Krusell, P., 1995. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9510, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  11. Gort, Michael & Klepper, Steven, 1982. "Time Paths in the Diffusion of Product Innovations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 630-53, September.
  12. Andrews, Donald W K & McDermott, C John, 1995. "Nonlinear Econometric Models with Deterministically Trending Variables," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(3), pages 343-60, July.
  13. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1994. "The role of human capital in economic development evidence from aggregate cross-country data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 143-173, October.
  14. Alwyn Young, 1992. "A Tale of Two Cities: Factor Accumulation and Technical Change in Hong Kong and Singapore," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1992, Volume 7, pages 13-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. David T. Coe & Elhanan Helpman, 1993. "International R&D Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 4444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Maddison, Angus, 2007. "Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199227204, March.
  18. Rodolfo Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2003. "Frictionless Technology Diffusion: The Case of Tractors," NBER Working Papers 9604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Douglas Gollin, 2001. "Getting Income Shares Right," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-11, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  20. 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.
  21. Peter Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 1997. "The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has It Gone Too Far?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 73-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn & Emilie Rovito, 2008. "A new approach to measuring technology with an application to the shape of the diffusion curves," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 187-207, April.
  23. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1996. "Returns to scale in U.S. production: estimates and implications," International Finance Discussion Papers 546, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  24. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn, 2005. "Lobbies and Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 11022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Richard R. Nelson & Edmond S. Phelps, 1965. "Investment in Humans, Technological Diffusion and Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 189, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  26. 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.
  27. Holmes, Thomas J. & Jr., James A. Schmitz, 2001. "A gain from trade: From unproductive to productive entrepreneurship," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 417-446, April.
  28. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472 Elsevier.
  29. Jerzmanowski, Michal, 2007. "Total factor productivity differences: Appropriate technology vs. efficiency," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 2080-2110, November.
  30. Clark, Gregory, 1987. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed? Lessons from the Cotton Mills," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 141-173, March.
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