Cross-Country Technology Diffusion: The Case of Computers (Forthcoming in American Economic Review)


We use data on imports of computer equipment for a large sample of countries between 1970 and 1990 to investigate the determinants of computer-technology adoption. We find strong evidence that computer adoption is associated with higher levels of human capital and with manufacturing trade openness vis-a-vis the OECD. We also find evidence that computer adoption is enhanced by high investment rates, good property rights protection, and a small share of agriculture in GDP. Finally, there is some evidence that adoption is reduced by a large share of government in GDP, and increased by a large share of manufacturing. After controlling for the above-mentioned variables, we do not find an independent role for the English- (or European-) language skills of the population.