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R&D Investment and International Productivity Differences

  • Frank R. Lichtenberg

This paper extends previous research on the effect of investment on labor productivity at the country level by accounting for investment in R&D, as well as for investment in fixed and human capital. Privately-funded R&D investment is found to have a significant positive effect on productivity. Moreover, this effect appears to be quite large. The estimated social (national) rate of return to private R&D investment is about seven times as large as the return to investment in equipment and structures. The elasticity of GNP with respect to the privately-funded research capital stock is about 7 %--about 1(3 as large as the physical-capital elasticity (whose estimate is substantially reduced when R&D is accounted for). These findings do not support the hypothesis that there arecomplete, or at least instantaneous, international R&D spillovers. The social marginal product of government-funded research capital appears to be much lower than that of private research capital.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4161.

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Date of creation: Sep 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Economic Growth in the World Economy, Symposium 1992, edited by Horst Siebert, pp. 89-110.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4161
Note: PR EFG
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  1. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, . "Equipment Investment and Economic Growth," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers _122, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
  2. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  3. Charles P. Himmelberg & Bruce C. Petersen, 1991. "R&D and internal finance: a panel study of small firms in high-tech industries," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 91-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. Bronwyn H. Hall, 1992. "Investment and Research and Development at the Firm Level: Does the Source of Financing Matter?," NBER Working Papers 4096, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1988. "The Private R&D Investment Response to Federal Design and Technical Competitions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 550-59, June.
  6. Paul M. Romer, 1987. "Crazy Explanations for the Productivity Slowdown," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 163-210 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1991. "Growth Accounting with Physical and Human Capital Accumulation," Working Papers 91-66, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Jacques Mairesse & Mohamed Sassenou, 1991. "R&D Productivity: A Survey of Econometric Studies at the Firm Level," NBER Working Papers 3666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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