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Too little or too much R&D?


  • Maria J. Alvarez-Pelaez

    (Universidad de Málaga)

  • Christian Groth

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)


According to the first generation models of endogenous growth based on expanding product variety, the market economy unambiguously generates too little R&D. Later, by disentangling returns to specialization from the market power parameter, it was shown that with sufficiently low returns to specialization too much R&D can occur. The present paper takes a step further, disentangling the market power parameter from the capital share in final output. We show that this helps finding too much R&D as well. In addition, by differentiating between net and gross returns to specialization it is demonstrated what drives the differing inefficiency results in this literature. The decisive factor behind excessive R&D is the implicit presence of negative externalities of increased specialization. Empirically, an advantage of the more general framework is better agreement with the observed level of markups and the observed falling tendency of the patent/R&D ratio.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria J. Alvarez-Pelaez & Christian Groth, 2002. "Too little or too much R&D?," Discussion Papers 02-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0201

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Zvi Griliches, 1989. "Patents: Recent Trends and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 2922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth through Creative Destruction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 323-351, March.
    3. Benassy, Jean-Pascal, 1998. "Is there always too little research in endogenous growth with expanding product variety?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 61-69, January.
    4. Jones, Charles I & Williams, John C, 2000. "Too Much of a Good Thing? The Economics of Investment in R&D," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 65-85, March.
    5. Alvarez-Pelaez, Maria J. & Groth, Christian, 2005. "Too little or too much R&D?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 437-456, February.
    6. Norrbin, Stefan C, 1993. "The Relation between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry: A Contradiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1149-1164, December.
    7. de Groot, Henri L. F. & Nahuis, Richard, 1998. "Taste for diversity and the optimality of economic growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 291-295, March.
    8. Charles I. Jones & John C. Williams, 1998. "Measuring the Social Return to R&D," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1119-1135.
    9. Jones, Charles I, 1995. "R&D-Based Models of Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 759-784, August.
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    More about this item


    Endogenous growth; Research and development; Expanding product variety; Surplus appropriability problem; Creative destruction; Optimal growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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