The World Technology Frontier

31 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2000 Last revised: 19 Oct 2010

See all articles by Francesco Caselli

Francesco Caselli

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Wilbur John Coleman

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business-Economics Group

Date Written: September 2000

Abstract

We define a country's technology as a triple of efficiencies: one for unskilled labor, one for skilled labor, and one for capital. We find a negative cross-country correlation between the efficiency of unskilled labor and the efficiencies of skilled labor and capital. We interpret this finding as evidence of the existence of a World Technology Frontier. On this frontier, increases in the efficiency of unskilled labor are obtained at the cost of declines in the efficiency of skilled labor and capital. We estimate a model in which firms in each country optimally choose from a menu of technologies, i.e. they choose their technology subject to a Technology Frontier. The optimal choice of technology depends on the country's endowment of skilled and unskilled labor, so that the model is one of appropriate technology. The estimation allows for country-specific technology frontiers, due to barriers to technology adoption. We find that poor countries tend disproportionately to be inside the World Technology Frontier.

Suggested Citation

Caselli, Francesco and Coleman, Wilbur John, The World Technology Frontier (September 2000). NBER Working Paper No. w7904. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=242137

Francesco Caselli (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Wilbur John Coleman

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business-Economics Group ( email )

Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0097
United States
(919) 660-7962 (Phone)
(919) 660-7971 (Fax)

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