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Methods and Concepts in Economic Complexity

Andres Gomez-Lievano

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Abstract: Knowhow in societies accumulates as it gets transmitted from group to group, and from generation to generation. However, we lack of a unified quantitative formalism that takes into account the structured process for how this accumulation occurs, and this has precluded the development of a unified view of human development in the past and in the present. Here, we summarize a paradigm to understand and model this process. The paradigm goes under the general name of the Theory of Economic Complexity (TEC). Based on it, we present a combination of analytical, numerical and empirical results that illustrate how to characterize the process of development, providing measurable quantities that can be used to predict future developments. The emphasis is the quantification of the collective knowhow an economy has accumulated, and what are the directions in which it is likely to expand. As a case study we consider data on trade, which provides consistent data on the technological diversification of 200 countries across more than 50 years. The paradigm represented by TEC should be relevant for anthropologists, sociologists, and economists interested in the role of collective knowhow as the main determinant of the success and welfare of a society.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo, nep-hme and nep-pke
Date: 2018-09, Revised 2018-10
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