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R&D and manufacturing production specialization in developed economies

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A study of the relation between technology and manufacturing production specialization in a series of developed economies is performed by means of models relating indicators of revealed symmetric comparative advantage of value added and exports to similar measures of comparative performance of R&D expenditure, capital intensity, total factor productivity and wage costs. The production and R&D specialization are shown to be substantial and sticky. This contrasts with the evidence of a substantial degree of convergence in the patterns of the other variables. Regression estimates show that, although all variables play their part, the impact of comparative R&D efforts on production specialization is by far the strongest. This impact is found to be stronger in the smaller economies and it is especially important in research-intensive industries. The influence of comparative wages is, moreover, found to be positive here, suggesting the dominance of a labour skill and efficiency wage effect over a wage cost competitiveness effect. These findings are shown to conform quite well with the predictions of Schumpeterian theory and of certain contributions to 'new trade theory' that have stressed the importance of dynamic economies of scale.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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