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Population Growth, Technological Adoption and Economic Outcomes: A Theory of Cross-Country Differences for the Information Era

  • Paul Beaudry
  • David Green

The object of this paper is to show how population growth, through its interaction with recent technological and organizational developments, can account for many of the cross-country differences in economic outcome observed among industrialized countries over the last 20 years. In particular, our model illustrates how a large decrease in the price of information technology can create a comparative advantage for high population growth economies to jump ahead in the adoption of computer- and skill-intensive models of production as a means to exploiting their relative abundance of human capital versus physical capital. The predictions of the model are that, over the span of the information revolution, industrial countries with higher population growth rates will experience a more pronounced adoption of new technology, a better performance in terms of increased employment rates, a poorer performance in terms of wage growth for less skilled workers, a larger increase in the service sector and a larger increase in the returns to education. We provide preliminary evidence in suport of the theory based on a comparative study of observed developments in the US, UK and Germany since the mid-seventies, complemented by an examination of broad wage and employment changes for 18 OECD countries over the same period.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8149.

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Date of creation: Mar 2001
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Publication status: published as Beaudry, Paul and David A. Green. "Population Growth, Technological Adoption, And Economic Outcomes In The Information Era," Review of Economic Dynamics, 2002, v5(4,Oct), 749-774.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8149
Note: LS
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  2. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 339-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Paul Beaudry & David Green, 1998. "What is Driving US and Canadian Wages: Exogenous Technical Change or Endogenous Choice of Technique?," NBER Working Papers 6853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Acemoglu, Daron, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809, October.
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  11. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  12. Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "Differences and Changes in Wage Structures," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free95-1, June.
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  14. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  15. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z. & Krusell, P., 1995. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9510, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  16. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Kevin J. Stiroh & Dale W. Jorgenson, 1999. "Information Technology and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 109-115, May.
  18. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  19. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1996. "The Origins of Technology-Skill Complementarity," NBER Working Papers 5657, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Paul Beaudry & David Green, 2000. "The Changing Structure of Wages in the US and Germany: What Explains the Differences?," NBER Working Papers 7697, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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