Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Technology Lags

On twitter today one writer noted that Gran Torino was just now coming to Japan. More broadly there is a lag for most technologies between the time they are introduced and when they are widely adopted. This happens both within and between countries. A paper by Diego Comin, Bart Hobijn, and Emilie Rovito in the Journal of Economic Growth looks at this phenomenon for ten goods. The paper is available here. The abstract:
We present evidence on the differences in the intensity with which ten major technologies are used in 185 countries across the world. We do so by calculating how many years ago these technologies were used in the U.S. with the same intensity as they are used in the countries in our sample. We denote these time lags as technology usage lags and compare them with lags in real GDP per capita. We find that (i) technology usage lags are large, often comparable to lags in real GDP per capita, (ii) usage lags are highly correlated with lags in per-capita income, and (iii) usage lags are highly correlated across technologies. The productivity differentials between the state-of-the-art technologies that we consider and the ones they replace, combined with the usage lags that we document, lead us to infer that differences in the intensity of usage of technologies might account for a large part of cross-country TFP differentials.

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