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Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth

  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Philippe Aghion
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

We analyze an economy where managers engage both in the adaptation of technologies from the world frontier and in innovation activities. The selection of high-skill managers is more important for innovation activities. As the economy approaches the technology frontier, selection becomes more important. As a result, countires at early stages of development pursue an investment-based strategy, with long term relationships, high average size and age of firms, large average investments, but little selection. Closer to the world technology frontier, there is a switch to innovation-based strategy with short-term relationships, younger firms, less investment and better selection of managers. We show that relatively backward economies may switch out of the investment-based strategy too soon, so certain economic institutions and policies, such as limits on product market competition or investment subsidies, that encourage the investment-based strategy may be beneficial. However, societies that cannot switch out of the investment-based strategy fail to converge to the world technology frontier. Non-convergence traps are more likely when policies and institutions are endogenized, enabling beneficiaries of existing policies to bribe politicians to maintain these policies.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9066.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9066.

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Date of creation: Jul 2002
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Publication status: published as Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 37-74, 03.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9066
Note: EFG
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  1. Jian Tong & Xu Chenggang, 2004. "Financial institutions and the wealth of nations: tales of development," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3745, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1996. "Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk, Diversification and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1426, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Hassler, J. & Rodriguez Mora, J.V., 1998. "IQ, Social Mobility and Growth," Papers 635, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  4. Peter Howitt & David Mayer-Foulkes, 2002. "R&D, Implementation and Stagnation: A Schumpeterian Theory of Convergence Clubs," NBER Working Papers 9104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jian Tong & Chenggang Xu, 2004. "Financial Institutions and The Wealth of Nations: Tales of Development," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series /2004/469, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  6. Zeira, Joseph, 1995. "Workers, Machines and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1139, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  8. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-19, December.
  9. Tong, Jian & Xu, Cheng-Gang, 2004. "Financial Institutions and the Wealth of Nations: Tales of Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 4348, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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