Joshua Gans, 11 June 2014

Netflix recently agreed to pay Comcast for faster access to Comcast’s customers, intensifying the debate over ‘net neutrality’ – the principle that internet service providers should treat all data equally. This column argues that without net neutrality regulation, ISPs can capture the benefits of higher-quality content, thereby discouraging innovation from content providers. To be effective, net-neutrality regulation must prevent content-based price discrimination on both sides of the market.

Chris Forman, Avi Goldfarb, Shane Greenstein, 23 May 2014

The diffusion of the internet has had varying effects on the location of economic activity, leading to both increases and decreases in geographic concentration. This column presents evidence that the internet worked against increasing concentration in invention. This relationship is particularly strong for inventions with more than one inventor, and when inventors live in different cities.

Julia Cagé, Valeria Rueda, 14 May 2014

African regions where Protestant missionaries were active had indigenous newspapers a century before other regions. This column argues, based on new research, that this difference has had lasting effects. Proximity to a mission that had a printing press in 1903 predicts newspaper readership today. Population density and light density (a proxy for economic development) is also higher today in regions nearer to missions that had printing presses. The results suggest that a well-functioning media – not Protestantism per se – was important for development.

Carl Kitchens, 29 January 2014

Economists have found that large-scale infrastructure investments tend to increase economic growth and reduce poverty. However, there has been relatively little research on the effects of smaller, more targeted investment projects. This column discusses recent research on the effects of the US Rural Electrification Administration, which provided subsidised loans for connecting farms to the electric grid. Counties that received electricity through the REA witnessed smaller declines in agricultural productivity, smaller declines in land values, and more retail activity than similar counties that did not.

Joel Mokyr, 08 September 2013

Has technological progress slowed down? Have we really picked all the low-hanging fruit? This column argues that technological progress is in fact not a thing of the past. Far from it. There are myriad reasons why the future should bring more technological progress than ever before – perhaps the most important being that technological innovation itself creates questions and problems that need to be fixed through further technological progress. If we rethink how innovation happens, we have every reason to suspect that we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Diego Comin, Martí Mestieri, 28 May 2013

Cross-country inequality is persistent. This column draws on economic history to explain the mechanisms by which dramatic cross-country differences in income emerge. We can reduce inequality through policies that facilitate the penetration of new technologies in poor and middle-income countries. Such policies can go a long way towards reducing existing cross-country income disparities.

Aaditya Mattoo, Arvind Subramanian, 04 May 2013

Global climate cooperation has collapsed but the need for action has not disappeared. This column argues that only radical technological progress can reconcile climate-change goals with development. It argues that four changes in WTO trade rules could facilitate climate-change action and technological advances without unduly damaging trade.

Laurits Christensen, Federico Etro, 24 March 2013

The EU is planning to harmonise data protection. This column balances the benefits of harmonisation against the estimated costs to business – especially small and medium-sized enterprises – and the macroeconomic costs more generally. The net compliance costs will perhaps be larger than the EU predicts.

Daniel Hamermesh, 20 February 2013

Publishing in economics is a very tough game, especially for young scholars trying to establish a research record while on a tenure clock. This column discusses new research that shows the age profile of authors in top journals has distinctly shifted away from young scholars. In 1993, half the authors of top-level articles were under 35 and 90% were under 50. Today, only a third are under 35.

Allan Collard-Wexler, Jan De Loecker, 03 February 2013

This paper measures the impact of the minimill, a drastic new technology for producing steel. The authors find that the sharp increase in the industry's productivity is linked to this new technology, and operates through two distinct mechanisms. First, minimills displaced the older technology, called vertically integrated production, and this reallocation of output was responsible for a third of the increase in the industry's productivity. Second, increased competition, due to the expansion of minimills, drove a substantial reallocation process within the group of vertically integrated producers, driving a resurgence in their productivity, and consequently of the industry's productivity as a whole.

Joan Costa-i-Font, Alistair McGuire, Victoria Serra-Sastre, 19 January 2013

Although healthcare innovation can make treatment cheaper, it can also make policy decisions more difficult by introducing new, better but more expensive technologies. This column argues that, unlike other technologies, healthcare technology is intermediated by insurance mechanisms, both private and public. Although health insurance coverage incentivises expenditure on innovation, it does not seem to heighten technology adoption, a challenge to the idea that innovation increases healthcare costs. Indeed, evidence suggests that technology diffusion is limited by other institutional barriers.

Susan Ariel Aaronson, 22 December 2012

The internet is an expanding opportunity for growth. This column argues that in recent years, however, policymakers and market actors have been undermining its potential. Governments and market actors are reducing both access to information and freedom of expression, as well as moving towards a splintered, non-global internet. Commitment to an open, free and global internet will be hard, but if bilateral, regional or multilateral trade agreements encourage interoperability, we might see some harmony among signatories’ privacy, online piracy, and security policies.

Diego Comin, Mikhail Dmitriev, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 26 November 2012

Geographical distance is a fundamental impediment to virtually all economic transactions. This column, using data on technology adoption in 161 countries over 140 years, argues that it also inhibits the spatial diffusion of technology. Moreover, it shows that technology spreads like an epidemic. As more people adopt a technology, the importance of distance to the technological leader diminishes until it eventually becomes irrelevant.

Daron Acemoğlu, James Robinson, Thierry Verdier, 21 November 2012

Amid the current economic slowdown there is renewed interest in what type of capitalism fosters growth and best improves welfare. This column argues Nordic-style capitalism may provide higher welfare but in an interconnected world, it may be the cut-throat US capitalism, with its extant inequalities, that makes possible the existence of more cuddly Nordic societies.

Robert J. Gordon, 11 September 2012

Global growth is slowing – especially in advanced-technology economies. This column argues that regardless of cyclical trends, long-term economic growth may grind to a halt. Two and a half centuries of rising per-capita incomes could well turn out to be a unique episode in human history.

Ashish Arora, Andrea Fosfuri, Thomas Rønde, 10 July 2012

Over the last decade, companies have paid greater attention to the management of their intellectual assets. We build a model that helps understand how licensing activity should be organized within large corporations.

Rahul Anand, Saurabh Mishra, Nikola Spatafora, 03 June 2012

Recent research has argues that what a country produces and exports matters for growth. This column presents a new dataset on export sophistication and reveals that in many countries the importance of modern services, and the sophistication of manufactured and service exports, has increased over time. It adds that an educated workforce, external liberalisation, and good information flows are important prerequisites for developing sophisticated goods and services.

Saurabh Mishra, Susanna Lundstrom Gable, Rahul Anand, 08 April 2012

Thanks to developments in technology, trade in services is becoming increasingly more viable, with many businesses now dividing their operations across the world. This column creates a new measure of what it calls ‘service export sophistication’ to illustrate this shift. It highlights the need to refocus policy debate with the understanding that service exports are vital for high economic growth.

Dani Rodrik, 31 October 2011

If rich and poor countries have access to the same technology, shouldn't their productivity levels eventually converge? This would imply that poor countries should grow more quickly until they catch up – but such a tendency has never been proven. CEPR DP8631 shows that this convergence in output does in fact occur – but within manufacturing sectors rather than in economies as a whole.

Eric Bartelsman, Pieter Gautier, Joris de Wind, 28 March 2011

Why is the US more productive than the EU? Many studies have shown that the wider use of information and communication technologies in the US explains much of the difference. Why does the US use these technologies more? This column provides new evidence suggesting the answer may lie in differences in employment protection legislation.

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