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- Kelly and O’Grada on sustained economic growth in England berfore 1700. That growth was slow relative to modern rates, but they argue it was appreciable and associated with increasing human capital and high wages. They give several examples of significant division of labor within industry in this pre-IR era.
- Via Chris Blattman. Experimental evidence that participating in trade leads to higher productivity. The modern firm-level trade models generally take productivity of firms as given, and only those who are already productive find trade worth it. The most enthusiastic reading of this is that simply providing firms with information about markets boosts productivity. The least enthusiastic is that experimenters simply paid fixed export cost for firms.
- The UN Least Developed Countries Report 2014 is about Growth with Structural Transformation. One of the key messages is “Economic growth is not enough: it must be accompanied by structural transformation..”. Um, name one example of economic growth that did *not* involve structural transformation. Probably more to come from me on this report, but you can all study it at home over the break.
- Correlation of pathogen exposure and degree of innovation across primate species. Essentially, being social animals has benefits (cooperation, imitation, and innovation) and costs (infectious diseases). Big question obviously is whether one drove the other.
- Gehringer and Prettner on longevity and innovation. A basic scale story. The longer people live, the more incentives they have to invest in capital (physical and human). This expands the scale of the economy, which expands incentives to innovate and earn profits. A relatively optimistic response to population aging through lower mortality rates as opposed to pessimistic worries about stagnation.
- Noah Smith (from a long time ago) writes a review of a paper by Acemoglu, Robinson, and Verdier regarding different types of capitalism (think Sweden and the US) and innovation. Upshot is that Sweden’s “soft” capitalism is worse for innovation than US type. More interesting than the particulars of the ARV paper is Noah’s broader comments on writing down models designed to fit existing data. The fact that the data matches your model doesn’t imply your model is right. It means you were smart enough to get the math to work out.
- Alex Tabarrok links to CBO report on patenting and TFP growth. Not much of a correlation. Several ways to think about this. First, patents are a very imperfect measure of innovation. Second, TFP is a very imperfect measure of innovation – remember, TFP includes utilization changes, markups, and input changes. It does *not* equal technology, so it is probably not surprising that TFP and patents are not correlated.