Trade, scale or social capital? Technological progress in poor and rich countries

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Endogenous growth theory suggests scale and trade as the determinants of total factor productivity (TFP) growth. The literature on social capital suggests that the levels of trust and participation in societies may affect cooperation and innovation. While there is evidence of the role of trade and inconclusive evidence on the role of social capital, previous studies have generally omitted two factors, out of the three mentioned, used small sample sizes and emphasized economic growth rather than technological progress. Our study addresses these shortcomings. We find robust evidence of the role of trade in fostering technological progress which is invariant to TFP proxies and independent of the debate on measuring TFP. Moreover, there is no clear role for scale, and a country rate of TFP growth seems to increase the most the more the country trades with dynamic economies that are different from. We uncover a positive effect of social capital, which is more significant in richer countries, suggesting that other characteristics, such as institutional quality, may be complementary to social capital. The paper's results are robust to different specification and estimation methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-808
Number of pages42
JournalJournal of International Trade and Economic Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2015


  • endogeneity
  • growth accounting
  • TFP
  • trust


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