Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Evert Van der Sluis


Convergence, Economic Growth, Human Capital, Research and Development, Technology Gap, Technology-Intensive Trade


This thesis investigates twenty-first century economic growth through a distanceto- frontier (technology-gap) lens where growth in a country’s knowledge stock is determined by knowledge creation and knowledge imitation. The creation term is assumed to be a function of research and development, technology-intensive export performance, and human capital, while the imitation term is a function of the technology gap, technology-intensive export performance, and human capital. Over the period 1997-2018, two samples of countries are analyzed in a panel setting, and two growth models are estimated in total—one for each sample. While research and development has been extensively analyzed in the economic growth context, many studies are limited to small samples of countries. In this paper, the growth model pertaining the large sample of countries (n = 57) utilizes total R&D expenditure data. The smaller sample (n = 41) considers a growth model wherein government-funded and business-enterprise-funded R&D expenditure are considered as separate knowledge determinants. Until recently, technology-intensive export data were sparse, making variable construction difficult for large-sample analysis. While a traditional approach might utilize information and communications technology measures in the growth model, I take advantage of modern data availability and introduce a measure of technologyintensive export performance to the conceptual and empirical models. To investigate the factors shaping knowledge over time, unconditional β-convergence tests are conducted on the proposed determinants of knowledge. The results of these tests indicate convergence in technology-intensive export performance, human capital, and government-funded research and development expenditure across nations—suggesting that less-developed nations are “catching up” to the leaders in terms of knowledge (technology). The growth models are estimated utilizing various generalized method of moments estimators. Of the three research and development variables, results indicate that only government-funded research and development expenditure has a positive effect on growth. Technology-intensive export performance, and human capital are shown to have positive and significant growth effects for all models and samples considered. Overall, these results suggest that policymakers should give great consideration to technology-intensive export performance and human capital when drafting growth policies.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Economic development -- Economic aspects.
Technological innovations -- Economic aspects.
Research -- Economic aspects.
Capital investments.
Convergence (Economics)

Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Included in

Economics Commons



Rights Statement

In Copyright