American Economic Review: Vol. 100 No. 5 (December 2010)


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An Exploration of Technology Diffusion

Article Citation

Comin, Diego, and Bart Hobijn. 2010. "An Exploration of Technology Diffusion." American Economic Review, 100(5): 2031-59.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.5.2031


We develop a model that, at the aggregate level, is similar to the one-sector neoclassical growth model; at the disaggregate level, it has implications for the path of observable measures of technology adoption. We estimate it using data on the diffusion of 15 technologies in 166 countries over the last two centuries. Our results reveal that, on average, countries have adopted technologies 45 years after their invention. There is substantial variation across technologies and countries. Newer technologies have been adopted faster than old ones. The cross-country variation in the adoption of technologies accounts for at least 25 percent of per capita income differences. (JEL O33, O41, O47)

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Comin, Diego (Harvard U)
Hobijn, Bart (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)

JEL Classifications

O33: Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
O41: One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
O47: Measurement of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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