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Comment

KJELL ERIK LOMMERUD

In this interesting paper, Hansson and Henrekson pursue a twofold aim. First, it summarizes empirical research on the 'catching up' effect in economic growth, second, it presents the authors' own work in the field. Their own research on the topic, in turn, draws on three separate studies. I will use most of the allotted space to comment upon these studies one by one.

'Catching up' has to do with the diffusion of technology, but what is the precise content of the hypothesis? Catching up seems to refer to a situation where less developed countries grow faster than more developed ones, implying that there is a convergence in productivity and income levels. To have 'catching up' it is therefore not only necessary that a technological 'follower' is able to digest technology developed in the technologically leading country: for true catching up to occur, either the leader must suddenly start to grow slower for some reason or there must be an increase in the follower's capability to digest technological improvements. Further, Hansson and Henrekson delineate between 'catching up' on the one hand and 'convergence' on the other. As they use the concepts, catching up refers to a diminished gap between a technological leader and the followers, whereas convergence refers to a reduction in the variance of productivity among a group of countries.

In this forest of similar concepts, what are we really interested in? Personally, I think the most intriguing question is what shapes a country's capability to digest technology developed elsewhere. This question should be delineated from the question of whether or not successful digestion of technological improvements in the end leads to faster or slower growth than in some other country. In their empirical work Hansson and Henrekson

____________________
While preparing this comment I have benefited from discussions with Hildegunn Nordås.

-135-

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