Econometrica: Mar, 1992, Volume 60, Issue 2
A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction
Peter Howitt, Philippe Aghion
A model of endogenous growth is developed in which vertical innovations, generated by a competitive research sector, constitute the underlying source of growth. Equilibrium is determined by a forward-looking difference equation, according to which the amount of research in any period depends upon the expected amount of research next period. One source of this intertemporal relationship is creative destruction. That is, the prospect of more future research discourages current research by threatening to destroy the rents created by current research. The paper analyzes the positive and normative properties of stationary equilibria, in which research employment is constant and GNP follows a random walk with drift, although under some circumstances cyclical equilibria also exist. Both the average growth rate and the variance of the growth rate are increasing functions of the size of innovations, the size of the skilled labor force, and the productivity of research as measured by a parameter indicating the effect of research on the Poisson arrival rate of innovations; and decreasing functions of the rate of time preference of the representative individual. Under laissez faire the economy's growth rate may be more or less than optimal because, in addition to the appropriability and intertemporal spillover effects of other endogenous growth models, which tend to make growth slower than optimal, the model also has effects that work in the opposite direction. In particular, the fact that private research firms do not internalize the destruction of rents generated by their innovations introduces a business-stealing effect similar to that found in the partial-equilibrium patent race literature. When we endogenize the size of innovations we find that business stealing also makes innovations too small.