Dimensions of human capital and technological diffusion

  • Zainab Asif
  • Radhika LahiriEmail author


We examine the impact of a comprehensive set of measures of human capital on recently created, direct measures of technology adoption using country-level panel data for the period 1964–2003, covering a wide range of technologies in various sectors of the economy. We consider many dimensions of human capital, using both qualitative and quantitative measures, as well as indirect measures that capture the role of “learning by doing” intrinsic to the process of technological diffusion. Our analysis, which examines the human capital and technological diffusion link more comprehensively relative to previous studies, suggests that the link is a conditional one, resting on various aspects of human capital and the nature of the technology in question. Overall, the results suggest that the type of human capital that is formed via the learning-by-doing mechanism may be the most important determinant of technological diffusion, followed by, to a substantially less degree, qualitative determinants such as cognitive skills (measured using test scores) and quantitative or other measures (such as years of schooling and life expectancy). Our conclusions are robust to the inclusion of institutional variables and other factors that determine technological diffusion.


Cognitive skills Economic growth Educational achievements Educational attainments Human capital Technology 

JEL Classification

I2 O1 O14 O13 



We would like to thank Vincent Hoang, Janice How, Sandy Suardi, Shrabani Saha, Peter Siminski and participants at various seminars and conferences for thoughtful discussions and comments. We take responsibility for any errors.


This study is not funded by any grant.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 83 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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