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Leapfrogging: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership

  • Elise Brezis
  • Paul Krugman
  • Daniel Tsiddon

Much recent work has suggested that endogenous technological change tends to reinforce the position of the leading nations. Yet from time to time this leadership role shifts. We suggest a mechanism that explains this pattern of -leapfrogging- as a response to occasional major changes in technology. When such a change occurs, leading nations may have no incentive to adopt the new ideas; given their extensive experience with older technologies, the new ideas do not initially seem to be an improvement. Lagging nations, however, have less experience; the new techniques offer them an opportunity to use their lower wages, to break into the market. If the new techniques eventually prove to be more productive than the old, there is a reversal of leadership.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3886.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3886.

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Date of creation: Oct 1991
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as American Economic Review, Vol. 83 (1993).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3886
Note: ITI IFM
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  2. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
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