Chapter 9: International patenting and knowledge flows in Latin America
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One of the striking stylized facts of the last three decades is the ability of some developing countries to catch up with the advanced ones while others are lagging behind. A set of developed economies and a set of newly industrializing and emerging countries, in particular in East Asia, have shown the tendency to converge in terms of GDP per capita. At the same time most of the Latin American countries (LACs) failed to grow at the same speed and did not undertake a process of economic catch up. The question of why this is happening is complex and involves a rich set of institutional, technological and economic variables. However some consensus has been reached on the fact that technology and innovation play a very important role and the ability of a country to catch up depends upon its capacity to learn, to generate domestic technological capabilities and innovate (e.g. Fagerberg 1994; Lee and Lim 2001; Furman et al. 2002; Cimoli et al. 2009). Also recent macroeconomic modelling has underlined that knowledge spillovers and externalities are major drivers of economic growth. The way knowledge diffuses affects the path of productivity growth and in particular these models emphasize that growth depends upon disembodied knowledge spillovers. As a consequence the possibility (and ability) to re-use existing knowledge generates increasing returns and long-run welfare effects (e.g. Romer, 1990; Grossman and Helpman, 1991).

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