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World Technology Usage Lags

  • Diego A. Comin
  • Bart Hobijn
  • Emilie Rovito

We present evidence on the differences in the intensity with which ten major technologies are used in 185 countries across the world. We do so by calculating how many years ago these technologies were used in the U.S. at the same intensity as they are used in the countries in our sample. We denote these time lags as technology usage lags and compare them with lags in real GDP per capita. We find that (i) technology usage lags are large, often comparable to lags in real GDP per capita, (ii) usage lags are highly correlated with lags in per-capita income, and (iii) usage lags are highly correlated across technologies. The productivity differentials between the state of the art technologies that we consider and the ones they replace combined with the usage lags that we document, lead us to infer that technology usage disparities might account for a large part of cross-country TFP differentials.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12677.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12677
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  1. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn, 2009. "Lobbies and Technology Diffusion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 229-244, May.
  2. 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.
  3. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman, 2001. "Cross-Country Technology Diffusion: The Case of Computers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 328-335, May.
  4. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 92-96, May.
  5. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  6. Boyan Jovanovic, 2009. "The Technology Cycle and Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(2), pages 707-729.
  7. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2003. "Cross-Country Technology Adoption: Making the Theories Face the Facts," Working Papers 03-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Edward C. Prescott, 1997. "Needed: a theory of total factor productivity," Staff Report 242, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
  10. Quah, Danny T, 1997. " Empirics for Growth and Distribution: Stratification, Polarization, and Convergence Clubs," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 27-59, March.
  11. W. Michael Cox & Richard Alm, 1996. "The economy at light speed: technology and growth in the information age and beyond," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, pages 2-17.
  12. 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.
  13. David, Paul A, 1990. "The Dynamo and the Computer: An Historical Perspective on the Modern Productivity Paradox," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 355-61, May.
  14. Quah, Danny, 1997. "Empirics for Growth and Distribution: Stratification, Polarization, and Convergence Clubs," CEPR Discussion Papers 1586, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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