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Technology Diffusion and Aggregate Dynamics

  • David Andolfatto

    (Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University)

  • Glenn M. MacDonald

This paper develops and analyzes a macroeconomic model in which aggregate growth and fluctuations arise from the discovery and diffusion of new technologies; there are no exogenous aggregate shocks. The temporal behavior of aggregates is driven by individuals' efforts to innovate and/or make use of others' innovations. Parameters describing preferences, production possibilities and learning technologies are estimated using post-war U.S. data. The model delivers predicted aggregates that grow and fluctuate much like the data. The key features of post-war growth are explained by new technologies that differ in terms of the magnitude of their improvement over existing methods and the difficulty of acquiring them. The model implies a negative trend in technological dispersion, and that the generally lower growth witnessed during the last two decades is the result of new technologies offering comparatively minor or less broadly-applicable improvements. Data on the growing and fluctuating share of engineering Ph.D.s support the model's technological interpretation of the growth facts, and data on patent applications and adult schooling are consistent with the notion that newer technologies are more specific and proprietary.

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Paper provided by University of Waterloo, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 98005.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: Jan 1998
Date of revision: Jan 1998
Handle: RePEc:wat:wpaper:98005
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  1. Jovanovic, Boyan & Lach, Saul, 1997. "Product Innovation and the Business Cycle," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(1), pages 3-22, February.
  2. Andolfatto, D. & MacDonald, G.M., 1995. "Endogeneous Technological Change, Growth, and Aggregate Functions," Working Papers 9504, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics.
  3. Jeffrey Campbell, 1998. "Entry, Exit, Embodied Technology, and Business Cycles," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(2), pages 371-408, April.
  4. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1989. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 8904, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  5. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell, 1996. "Can Technology Improvements Cause Productivity Slowdowns?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 209-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jovanovic, B. & Macdonald, G.M., 1988. "Competitive Diffusion," RCER Working Papers 160, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  7. Finn E. Kydland, 1993. "Business cycles and aggregate labor-market fluctuations," Working Paper 9312, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  8. Bental, Benjamin & Peled, Dan, 1996. "The Accumulation of Wealth and the Cyclical Generation of New Technologies: A Search Theoretic Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(3), pages 687-718, August.
  9. Jovanovic, Boyan & Rob, Rafael, 1990. "Long Waves and Short Waves: Growth through Intensive and Extensive Search," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1391-1409, November.
  10. Gort, Michael & Klepper, Steven, 1982. "Time Paths in the Diffusion of Product Innovations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 630-53, September.
  11. Lippi, Marco & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 1993. "Diffusion of Technical Change and the Decomposition of Output into Trend and Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 775, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Bahk, Byong-Hong & Gort, Michael, 1993. "Decomposing Learning by Doing in New Plants," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 561-83, August.
  13. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1992. "General Purpose Technologies "Engines of Growth?"," NBER Working Papers 4148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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