Technological Progress and Rent Seeking
37 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2021 Last revised: 14 Mar 2023
Date Written: March 13, 2023
We model firms' allocation of resources between surplus-creating (a.k.a., productive) and surplus-appropriating (a.k.a., rent-seeking) activities. We show that industry-wide technological advancements, such as recent progress in the collection and processing of big data, induce a disproportionate and socially inefficient allocation of resources towards surplus appropriation, even when the associated productivity gains are far larger for surplus-creating activities than for surplus-appropriating activities. As technology improves, firms lean more on rent seeking to obtain their profits, endogenously reducing the impact of technological progress on economic progress and inflating the price of the resources used for both types of activities.
Keywords: Resource Allocation, Surplus Appropriation, Misallocation, Economic Growth, Imitation, Speculation.
JEL Classification: D21, D24, O33, O41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation