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Input diffusion and the evolution of production networks
Carvalho, Vasco; Voigtländer, Nico
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
What determines which inputs are initially considered and eventually adopted in the productionof new or improved goods? Why are some inputs much more prominent than others? We modelthe evolution of input linkages as a process where new producers first search for potentially usefulinputs and then decide which ones to adopt. A new product initially draws a set of 'essentialsuppliers'. The search stage is then confined to the network neighborhood of the latter, i.e., to theinputs used by the essential suppliers. The adoption decision is driven by a tradeoff between thebenefits accruing from input variety and the costs of input adoption. This has important implicationsfor the number of forward linkages that a product (input variety) develops over time. Inputdiffusion is fostered by network centrality ? an input that is initially represented in many networkneighborhoods is subsequently more likely to be adopted. This mechanism also delivers a powerlaw distribution of forward linkages. Our predictions continue to hold when varieties are aggregatedinto sectors. We can thus test them, using detailed sectoral US input-output tables. We showthat initial network proximity of a sector in 1967 significantly increases the likelihood of adoptionthroughout the subsequent four decades. The same is true for rapid productivity growth in aninput-producing sector. Our empirical results highlight two conditions for new products to becomecentral nodes: initial network proximity to prospective adopters, and technological progress thatreduces their relative price. Semiconductors met both conditions.
Macroeconomics and International Economics
input adoption
directed network search
dynamics of input-output networks
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