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Distance to the Technological Frontier and Economic Development

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Abstract

This research explores the effects of distance to the pre-industrial technological frontiers on comparative economic development in the course of human history. It establishes theoretically and empirically that distance to the frontier had a persistent non-monotonic effect on a country's pre-industrial economic development. In particular, advancing a novel measure of the travel time to the technological frontiers, the analysis establishes a robust persistent U-shaped relation between distance to the frontier and pre-industrial economic development across countries. Moreover, it demonstrates that countries, which throughout the last two millennia were relatively more distant from these frontiers, have higher contemporary levels of innovation and entrepreneurial activity, suggesting that distance from the frontier may have fostered the emergence of a culture conducive to innovation, knowledge creation, and entrepreneurship.

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  • Ömer Özak, 2012. "Distance to the Technological Frontier and Economic Development," Departmental Working Papers 1201, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:smu:ecowpa:1201
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    File URL: ftp://ftp1.economics.smu.edu/WorkingPapers/2012/OZAK/OZAK-2012-01.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Fernihough & Kevin Hjorstshøj O’Rourke, 2014. "Coal and the European Industrial Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _124, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Comparative Development; Geographical Distance; Culture and Technology; Innovation; Technological Diffusion and Imitation; Patenting Activity; Entrepreneurship;

    JEL classification:

    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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