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The Intensive Margin of Technology Adoption

  • Diego A. Comin

    ()

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

  • Marti Mestieri

    ()

    (MIT Department of Economics)

We present a tractable model for analyzing the relationship between economic growth and the intensive and extensive margins of technology adoption. The "extensive" margin refers to the timing of a country's adoption of a new technology; the "intensive" margin refers to how many units are adopted (for a given size economy). At the aggregate level, our model is isomorphic to a neoclassical growth model, while at the microeconomic level it features adoption of firms at the extensive and the intensive margin. Based on a data set of 15 technologies and 166 countries our estimations of the model yield four main findings: (i) there are large cross-country differences in the intensive margin of adoption; (ii) differences in the intensive margin vary substantially across technologies; (iii) the cross-country dispersion of adoption lags has declined over time while the cross-country dispersion in the intensive margin has not; (iv) the cross- country variation in the intensive margin of adoption accounts for more than 40% of the variation in income per capita.

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Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 11-026.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:11-026
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  1. Rodolfo Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2003. "Frictionless technology diffusion: the case of tractors," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  2. Diego Comin & Mark Gertler, 2006. "Medium-Term Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 523-551, June.
  3. Diego Comin & Bart Hobiijn, 2006. "An Exploration of Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 12314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Susanto Basu & David N. Weil, 1996. "Appropriate Technology and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Maddison, Angus, 2007. "Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199227204.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G, 1997. "Returns to Scale in U.S. Production: Estimates and Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 249-83, April.
  11. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  12. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn & Emilie Rovito, 2006. "Five Facts You Need to Know About Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 11928, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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