Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Seminar Papers,
Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies

No 660: Productivity Differences

Daron Acemoglu () and Fabrizio Zilibotti ()
Additional contact information
Daron Acemoglu: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Fabrizio Zilibotti: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, Postal: Stockholm University, S-106 69 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Many technologies used by the LDCs are developed in the OECD economies, and as such, are used to make optimal use of the skills of these richer countries' workforces. Due to differences in the supply of skills, some of tasks performed by skilled workers in the OECD economies will be carried out by unskilled workers in the LDCs. Since the technologies in these tasks are designed to be used by skilled workers, productivity in the LDCs will be low. Even when all countries have equal access to new technologies, this mismatch between skills and technology can lead to sizeable differences in total factor productivity and output per worker. Our theory also suggests that productivity differences should be highest in medium-tech sectors, and that the trade regime and the degree of intellectual property right enforcement in the LDCs have an important effect on the direction of technical change and on productivity differences.

Keywords: Development; Directed Technical Change; Intellectual Property Rights; Skills; Technology; Total Factor Productivity

JEL-codes: F43; O14; O34; O47

54 pages, November 1, 1998

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