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Appropriate Technology, Human Capital and Development Accounting

Over the past decade, research explaining cross country income differences has increasingly pointed to the dominant role of total factor productivity (TFP) gaps as opposed to factor accumulation. Nevertheless, it is a widely held belief that a country’s ability to absorb and implement technologies is tied to its human capital. In this paper, we implement this idea in a novel specification and explore its quantitative implications within a development accounting framework. In our model, intermediate goods production takes place over a range of industries, and relative human capital ratios in a country influence industry specific productivities asymmetrically. As a result, in human capital abundant countries, production is concentrated around industries with high TFP, while in low human capital countries, production is concentrated around industries with low TFP. Development accounting exercises for a range of parameter values suggest that this human capital-technology complementarity may account for eighteen to twenty five percent of differences in GDP per worker which is higher than the combined direct contribution of factors of production.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Louisiana State University in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2012-03.

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Handle: RePEc:lsu:lsuwpp:2012-03
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  1. Chris Papageorgiou & Viera Chmelarova, . "Nonlinearities in Capital-Skill Complementarity," Departmental Working Papers 2003-07, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  2. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2006. "The World Technology Frontier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 499-522, June.
  3. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Areendam Chanda & Carl-Johan Dalgaard, . "Dual Economies and International Total Factor Productivity Differences," Departmental Working Papers 2005-11, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  5. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1997. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 709-51, August.
  6. David N. Weil, 1996. "Appropriate Technology and Growth," Working Papers 96-24, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  7. Andrés Erosa & Tatyana Koreshkova & Diego Restuccia, 2010. "How Important Is Human Capital? A Quantitative Theory Assessment of World Income Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1421-1449.
  8. R. Dornbusch & S. Fischer & P. A. Samuelson, 1976. "Comparative Advantage, Trade and Payments in a Ricardian Model With a Continuum of Goods," Working papers 178, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment Updates and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Chris Papageorgiou & Fidel Pérez Sebastián & John Duffy, 2002. "Capital-Skill Complementarity? Evidence From A Panel Of Countries," Working Papers. Serie AD 2002-09, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  11. 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.
  12. Vollrath, Dietrich, 2009. "How important are dual economy effects for aggregate productivity?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 325-334, March.
  13. 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.
  14. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2010. "Development Accounting," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 207-23, January.
  15. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "A New View of Technological Change," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 79(315), pages 573-78, September.
  16. Benjamin F. Jones, 2011. "The Human Capital Stock: A Generalized Approach," NBER Working Papers 17487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Armenter, Roc & Lahiri, Amartya, 2012. "Accounting for development through investment prices," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(6), pages 550-564.
  18. Todd Schoellman, 2012. "Education Quality and Development Accounting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 388-417.
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