Productivity and Innovation

Tsuyoshi Nakamura, Hiroshi Ohashi, 20 October 2020

Recent studies have shown average firm markups increasing in the US and other developed countries, driven by a small share of ‘superstar’ firms which have expanded their market shares and consolidated technological advantages. This column uses firm-level data to show that similar trends in markups are missing in Japan. In addition, intangible capital investments do not boost market power in the country. Instead, a strong predictor of average markup in Japan is firm age, with older firms enjoying significantly higher market power. 

Silvia Appelt, Matej Bajgar, Chiara Criscuolo, Fernando Galindo-Rueda, 14 October 2020

Tax incentives have become the number one policy tool that governments use to encourage companies to invest in research and development. This column presents the results of a new analysis of firm-level records in 20 OECD countries, which suggests that, overall, R&D tax incentives are effective in boosting business R&D but their effectiveness differs sharply across firms of different sizes and across countries. Tax incentives are also better suited for supporting R&D projects closer to the market while direct government funding – such as through grants and R&D procurement – is more conducive to research that may not immediately result in new goods or services.

Molly Lesher, 13 October 2020

Many new innovations do not fit neatly into the traditional definitions of markets as recognised by existing regulatory bodies. One way policymakers can define new regulatory frontiers for such technologies is to implement ‘sandboxes’ – frameworks that provide participant companies with some regulatory flexibility while insulating the impact on consumers. This column argues that while sandboxes can bring benefits, they are not always the best approach and policy experimentation can – and should – take many forms.

Ufuk Akcigit, Jeremy Pearce, Marta Prato, 10 October 2020

For economies to innovate and grow past the COVID-19 crisis, policymakers have to understand the implications of various policies for innovation and economic growth, and take into account how people sort into professions and how potential scientists and innovators respond to policy. This column presents a comprehensive framework to study theoretically and empirically the role of education and R&D policies for boosting innovation and economic growth. It finds that policy tools in both education and R&D are complementary in developing talent, which is the key ingredient to innovation. The best mix of policies depends on how unequal society is and how urgently innovation is needed.

Elisabetta Gentile, Sébastien Miroudot, Gaaitzen De Vries, Konstantin M. Wacker, 08 October 2020

Rapid improvements in robot capabilities have fuelled concerns about the implications for jobs. This column examines the effect robots have had on jobs in industries across high-income and emerging countries from 2005 to 2015. The rise in robot adoption relates to a fall in the employment share of occupations that are intensive in routine tasks. This relation is observed in high-income countries, but not in emerging market and transition economies.

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