More R&D, less growth? China’s decreasing research productivity in international comparison


Boeing, Philipp ; Hünermund, Paul


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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-626150
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2020
The title of a journal, publication series: ZEW policy brief
Volume: 2020-08
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publication language: English
Institution: Sonstige Einrichtungen > ZEW - Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung
MADOC publication series: Veröffentlichungen des ZEW (Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung) > ZEW policy brief
Subject: 330 Economics
Abstract: Innovation is widely considered the primary driver of growth in high-income economies. The efficiency by which an economy is able to transform research & development (R&D) inputs into output growth is captured by the measure of research productivity. In a recent study we were able to show that research productivity is declining over time, not just in the U.S., which has been shown before, but also in China and Germany. This implies that new ideas and innovations are universally harder to find. In Germany, business R&D spending has increased by an average of approximately 3.3% per year during the last three decades. At the same time, research productivity has fallen on average by 5.2% per year, which is very similar to the estimates obtained for the U.S. In China, we observe a substantial expansion of research activities during the first and second decade of this century, indicated by a growth rate of 21.9% in research spending. The resulting output growth, however, is not proportional to such inputs, which is reflected by a 23.8% decrease in estimated research productivity, or a reduction by half in only three years. We argue that China’s substantial decrease in research productivity is related to diminishing returns to technological catching-up as well as mission-driven policy targeting technological self-sufficiency and national security.

Das Dokument wird vom Publikationsserver der Universitätsbibliothek Mannheim bereitgestellt.




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