NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Equilibrium Technology Diffusion, Trade, and Growth

Jesse Perla, Christopher Tonetti, Michael E. Waugh

NBER Working Paper No. 20881
Issued in January 2015, Revised in May 2019
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, International Trade and Investment Program, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

We study how opening to trade affects economic growth in a model where heterogeneous firms can adopt new technologies already in use by other firms in their home country. We characterize the growth rate using a summary statistic of the profit distribution—the mean-min ratio. Opening to trade increases the profit spread through increased export opportunities and foreign competition, induces more rapid technology adoption, and generates faster growth. Faster growth comes with costs: labor is reallocated away from production and fewer varieties are produced domestically. Quantitatively, these forces balance to produce large consumption-equivalent welfare gains from trade—especially along the transition path.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20881

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