Working Papers

2003-02 | December 2003


Human Capital and Technology Diffusion


This paper generalizes the Nelson-Phelps catch-up model of technology diffusion. We allow for the possibility that the pattern of technology diffusion can be exponential, which would predict that nations would exhibit positive catch-up with the leader nation, or logistic, in which a country with a sufficiently small capital stock may exhibit slower total factor productivity growth than the leader nation. ; We derive a nonlinear specification for total factor productivity growth that nests these two specifications. We estimate this specification for across-section of nations from 1960 through 1995. Our results support the logistic specification, and are robust to a number of sensitivity checks. ; Our model also appears to predict slow total factor productivity growth well. 22 of the 27 nations that we identify as lacking the critical human capital levels needed to achieve faster total factor productivity growth than the leader nation in 1960 did achieve lower growth over the next 35 years.

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