Distance to the Pre-industrial Technological Frontier and Economic Development

108 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2012 Last revised: 28 Feb 2018

See all articles by Ömer Özak

Ömer Özak

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics; IZA; Global Labor Organization (GLO)

Date Written: February 19, 2018


This research explores the effects of distance to the pre-industrial technological frontiers on comparative economic development in the course of human history. It establishes theoretically and empirically that distance to the frontier had a persistent non-monotonic effect on a country's pre-industrial economic development. In particular, advancing a novel measure of the travel time to the technological frontiers, the analysis establishes a robust persistent U-shaped relation between distance to the frontier and pre-industrial economic development across countries. Moreover, it demonstrates that countries, which throughout the last two millennia were relatively more distant from these frontiers, have higher contemporary levels of innovation and entrepreneurial activity, suggesting that distance from the frontier may have fostered the emergence of a culture conducive to innovation, knowledge creation, and entrepreneurship.

Keywords: Comparative Development, Geographical Distance, Culture and Technology, Innovation, Technological Diffusion and Imitation, Patenting Activity, Entrepreneurship

JEL Classification: E02, F15, F43, N10, N70, O11, O14, O31, O33, Z10

Suggested Citation

Özak, Ömer, Distance to the Pre-industrial Technological Frontier and Economic Development (February 19, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1989216 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1989216

Ömer Özak (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States
+1-214-768-2755 (Phone)
+1-214-768-1821 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://omerozak.com


P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Global Labor Organization (GLO) ( email )


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics