poly: Recombinant Growth

From: Robin Hanson <hanson@econ.berkeley.edu>
Date: Fri Aug 07 1998 - 14:04:53 PDT

Martin L. Weitzman, "Recombinant Growth",
Quarterly Journal of Economics,
113(2): 331-360, May 1998.

This paper attempts to provide microfoundations for the
knowledge production function in an idea-based growth model.
Production of new ideas is made a function of newly
reconfigured old ideas in the spirit of the way an
agricultural research station develops improved plant varieties
by cross-pollinating existing plant varieties. The model shows
how knowledge can build upon itself in a combinatoric feedback
process that may have significant implications for economic
growth. The paper's main theme is that the ultimate limits to
growth lie not so much in our ability to generate new ideas as
in our ability to process an abundance of potentially new ideas
into usable form.

I like this paper. It suggests that new ideas are just
combinations of old ideas, so the supply of new ideas is
unlimited, and the fundamental limit to economic growth rates
is the cost to examine each new idea.

Robin Hanson
hanson@econ.berkeley.edu http://hanson.berkeley.edu/
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-2627
Received on Fri Aug 7 20:52:33 1998

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