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Technological revolutions, structural change & catching-up

Jan Fagerberg () and Bart Verspagen

No 2020-012, MERIT Working Papers from United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT)

Abstract: Technological revolutions, i.e., clusters of technologies that collectively have a transformational impact on the global economy, are rare events that dramatically influence the opportunities facing countries at different levels of development. A central suggestion in the relevant literature is that countries that manage to adopt the new technologies associated with a specific technological revolution benefit economically from it. This is also assumed to go together with a changing specialisation pattern in international trade. The paper considers the empirical merits of these suggestions, drawing on GDP and trade data for a large number of countries on different levels of development from the post-second-world-war period. The empirical analysis reveals a major divide in the global economy between a group of modern, industrialised countries, specialised in technology-based production, and another group of countries, specialised in commodities and resource-based products, and lagging behind both in terms of technology and income. More to the future, the paper also discusses the extent to which a new green technological revolution, with renewable energy as a central element, is currently emerging, and what impact this possibly might have for catching-up, structural change and economic growth for countries at different levels of development, e.g., China.

Keywords: Technological revolutions; catching up; specialisation; renewable energy; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O10 O14 O30 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-03-30
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene, nep-gro and nep-tid
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

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