Geographic Localization of International Technology Diffusion
Convergence in per capita income across countries turns on whether technological knowledge spillover are global or local. This paper estimates the amount of spillover from R&D expenditures in major industrialized countries on a geographic basis. A new data set is used which encompasses most of the world's innovative activity at the industry-level between the years 1970 and 1995. First, I find that technological knowledge is to a substantial degree local, not global, as the benefits from foreign spillover are declining with distance: on average, a 10% higher distance to a major technology-producing country such as the U.S. is associated with a 0.15% lower level of productivity. Second, technological knowledge has become more global over the sample period. As a determinant of productivity, foreign R&D has significantly gained in importance relative to domestic R&D, and the extent to which knowledge spillover decline with distance has fallen by 20%. The finding of a falling but still high degree of localization has important implications for macroeconomics and growth, trade, and regional economics.