NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Are Nonconvexities Important For Understanding Growth?

Paul Romer

NBER Working Paper No. 3271 (Also Reprint No. r1510)
Issued in February 1990
NBER Program(s):   EFG

Everyday experience and a simple logical argument show that nonconvexities are essential for understanding growth. Compared to previous statements of this well known argument, the presentation here places more emphasis on the distinction between two of the fundamental attributes of any economic good: rivalry and excludability. It also emphasizes the difference between public goods and the technological advances that are fundamental to economic growth. Like public goods, technological advances are rionrival goods. Hence, they are inextricably linked to nonconvexities. But in contrast to public goods, which are nonexcludable, technological advances generate benefits that are at least partially excludable. Hence, innovations in the technology are for the most part privately provided. This means that nonconvexities are relevant for goods that trade in private markets. Consequently, an equilibrium with price-taking in all markets cannot be sustained. Concluding remarks describe some of the recent equilibrium growth models that do not rely on price-taking and highlight some of the implications of these models.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3271

Published: The American Economic Review, Vol. 80, No. 2, pp. 97-103, (May 1990).

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