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If Technology Has Arrived Everywhere, Why has Income Diverged?

  • Diego A. Comin
  • Martí Mestieri Ferrer

We study the lags with which new technologies are adopted across countries, and their long-run penetration rates once they are adopted. Using data from the last two centuries, we document two new facts: there has been convergence in adoption lags between rich and poor countries, while there has been divergence in penetration rates. Using a model of adoption and growth, we show that these changes in the pattern of technology diffusion account for 80% of the Great Income Divergence between rich and poor countries since 1820.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19010.

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Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19010
Note: DAE EFG ME PR
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  1. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 1999. "Malthus to Solow," Staff Report 257, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Robert E. Lucas, 2000. "Some Macroeconomics for the 21st Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 159-168, Winter.
  3. Oded_Galor & Andrew Mountford, 2006. "Trade and the Great Divergence: The Family Connection," Working Papers 2006-01, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. Diego A. Comin & Martí Mestieri, 2010. "An Intensive Exploration of Technology Diffusion," NBER Working Papers 16379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kevin H. O’Rourke & Ahmed S. Rahman & Alan M. Taylor, 2012. "Trade, Technology and the Great Divergence," Departmental Working Papers 35, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
  7. Lant Pritchett, 1997. "Divergence, Big Time," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 3-17, Summer.
  8. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995. "Technological Diffusion, Convergence, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Tamura, Robert, 2002. "Human capital and the switch from agriculture to industry," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 207-242, December.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
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