Publications on Technology
Working Paper No. 1029 | September 2023The year 2023 commemorates the 30th anniversary of the publication of the influential, yet controversial, study The East Asian Miracle report by the World Bank (1993). An important part of the report’s analysis was concerned with the sources of growth in East Asia. This was based on the neoclassical decomposition of growth into productivity and factor accumulation. At about the same time, the publication of Alwyn Young’s (1992, 1995) and J. I. Kim and Lawrence Lau’s (1994) studies, and Paul Krugman’s (1994) popularization of the “zero total factor productivity growth” thesis, led to a very important debate within the profession, on the sources of growth in East Asia. The emerging literature on China’s growth during the 1990s also used the neoclassical growth model to decompose overall growth into total factor productivity growth and factor accumulation. This survey reviews what the profession has learned during the last 30 years about East Asia’s growth, using growth-accounting exercises and estimations of production functions. It demystifies this literature by pointing out the significant methodological problems inherent in the neoclassical growth-accounting approach. We conclude that the analysis of growth within the framework of the neoclassical model should be seriously questioned. Instead, we propose that researchers look at other approaches, for example, the balance-of-payments–constrained growth rate approach of Thirlwall (1979) or the product space of Hidalgo et al. (2007), together with the notion of complexity of Hidalgo and Hausmann (2009).Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Jesus Felipe John McCombie
Working Paper No. 1017 | April 2023This paper revisits a traditional theme in the literature on the political economy of development, namely how to redistribute rents from traditional exporters of natural resources toward capitalists in technology-intensive sectors with a higher potential for innovation and the creation of higher-productivity jobs. Porcile and Lima argue that this conflict has been reshaped in the past three decades by two major transformations in the international economy. The first is the acceleration of technical change and the key role governments play in supporting international competitiveness. This role provides the strategic public goods to foster innovation and the diffusion of technology (what Christopher Freeman called “technological infrastructure”). The second is the impact of financial globalization in limiting the ability of governments in the periphery to tax and/or issue debt to finance those public goods. Capital mobility allows exporters of natural resources to send their foreign exchange abroad to arbitrate between domestic and foreign assets, and to avoid taxation. Using a macroeconomic model for a small, open economy, the authors argue that in this more complex international context, the external constraint on output growth assumes different forms. They focus on two polar cases: the “pure financialization” case, in which legal and illegal capital flights prevent the government from financing the provision of strategic public goods; and the “trade deficit” case, in which private firms in the more technology-intensive sector cannot import the capital goods they need to expand industrial production.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Gabriel Porcile Gilberto Tadeu Lima
Working Paper No. 998 | January 2022
A Critique of Aggregate IndicatorsEconomic analysts have used trends in total factor productivity (TFP) to evaluate the effectiveness with which economies are utilizing advances in technology. However, this measure is problematic on several different dimensions. First, the idea that it is possible to separate out the relative contribution to economic output of labor, capital, and technology requires ignoring their complex interdependence in actual production. Second, since TFP growth has declined in recent decades in all of the developed market societies, there is good reason to believe that the decline is an artifact of the slower rates of economic growth that are linked to austerity policies. Third, reliance on TFP assumes that measures of gross domestic product are accurately capturing changes in economic output, even as the portion of the labor force producing tangible goods has declined substantially. Finally, there are other indicators that suggest that current rates of technological progress might be as strong or stronger than in earlier decades.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Fred Block
Working Paper No. 804 | May 2014
In this second part of our study we survey the rapidly expanding empirical literature on the determinants of the functional distribution of income. Three major strands emerge: technological change, international trade, and financialization. All contribute to the fluctuations of the labor share, and there is a significant amount of self-reinforcement among these factors. For the case of the United States, it seems that the factors listed above are by order of increasing importance. We conclude by noting that the falling US wage shares cointegrates with rising inequality and a rising top 1 percent income share. Thus, all measures of income distribution provide the same picture. Liberalization and financialization worsen economic inequality by raising top incomes, unless institutions are strongly redistributive.
The labor share has also fallen, for structural reasons and for reasons related to economic policy. Such explanations are left to parts III and IV of our study, respectively. Part I investigated the theories of income distribution.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
Working Paper No. 803 | May 2014
This series of working papers explores a theme enjoying a tremendous resurgence: the functional distribution of income—the division of aggregate income by factor share. This first installment surveys some landmark theories of income distribution. Some provide a technology-based account of the relative shares while others provide a demand-driven explanation (Keynes, Kalecki, Kaldor, Goodwin). Two questions lead to a better understanding of the literature: is income distribution assumed constant?, and is income distribution endogenous or exogenous? However, and despite their insights, these theories alone fail to fully explain the current deterioration of income distribution.
Subsequent installments are dedicated to analyzing the empirical literature (part II), to the measurement and composition of the relative shares (part III), and to a study of the role of economic policy (part IV).Download:Associated Program:Author(s):