Why is it that some countries are more developed than others? A country is “less developed” not only because it lack inputs (labor and capital) but because it uses them less efficiently. In fact, inputs are estimated to account for less than half of the differences in per capita income across nations. The rest is due to the inability to acquire, adopt and adapt better technologies to raise productivity. As an engine of growth, the potential of technological learning is huge—and largely untapped. Four global trends have begun to unlock that potential, and are bound to continue.
First, the vertical decomposition of production across frontiers allows less-advanced countries to insert themselves in supply chains by initially specializing in