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The Spatial Diffusion of Technology

  • Diego A. Comin
  • Mikhail Dmitriev
  • Esteban Rossi-Hansberg

We study empirically technology diffusion across countries and over time. We find significant evidence that technology diffuses slower to locations that are farther away from adoption leaders. This effect is stronger across rich countries and also when measuring distance along the south-north dimension. A simple theory of human interactions can account for these empirical findings. The theory suggests that the effect of distance should vanish over time, a hypothesis that we confirm in the data, and that distinguishes technology from other flows like goods or investments. We then structurally estimate the model. The parameter governing the frequency of interactions is larger for newer and network-based technologies and for the median technology the frequency of interactions decays by 73% every 1000 Kms. Overall, we document the significant role that geography plays in determining technology diffusion across countries.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18534.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18534
Note: DAE DEV EFG ITI PR
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  1. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, . "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Home Pages _068, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
  3. William R. Kerr & Scott Duke Kominers, 2010. "Agglomerative Forces and Cluster Shapes," Harvard Business School Working Papers 11-061, Harvard Business School, revised Nov 2012.
  4. Basu, Susanto, 1996. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 719-51, August.
  5. 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.
  6. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sérgio, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," CEPR Discussion Papers 1221, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2002. "Social Networks and Technology Adoption in Northern Mozambique," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 35, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  8. 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.
  9. Angus Maddison, 2005. "Measuring And Interpreting World Economic Performance 1500-2001," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(1), pages 1-35, 03.
  10. 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.
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