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Title: Know what? : new lenses on productive knowledge shed light on long run development, structural change, job switching and the transition to the green economy
Author: Mealy, Penny
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 7541
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Tracing back to Adam Smith, scholars have emphasised the importance of knowledge and its profound implications for prosperity. However, measuring and analysing something as intangible and multifaceted as the knowledge collectively held and used within society has, not surprisingly, proved challenging. This thesis advances quantitative empirical approaches for analysing productive knowledge within socio-economic systems and applies these methodologies to shed new light on (i) long run regional development and structural change (ii) labour market segregation and job switching, and (iii) the transition to the green economy. This thesis shows that across a range of different contexts, from US regional development in the 19th century to modern-day labour markets, what places and people know matters. Measuring the type of knowledge concentrated in US states sheds new light on structural change, the decline of rust-belt states, and the reversal of patterns in income convergence. Similarly, measuring the type of knowledge held by individual workers in different occupations provides new insights on the division of labour, job transitions and future career prospects. Moreover, measuring the type of knowledge embedded within countries turns out to be particularly informative of a nation's likelihood of success in the green economy - and its potential for green diversification in the future. This thesis also reveals distinct segregation in societal knowledge across places and people. Such divisions could matter more than we realise. For example, the segregation of productive knowledge across US states could play a role in undermining the nation's capacity for inclusive growth. The segregation of skills and productive capabilities across the US labour force could exacerbate the distributional consequences of labour market shocks. And moreover, the segregation across nations' capacities to both participate and benefit from the transition to the green economy could slow or even create barriers to progressing one of the most important socio-economic transitions of our time. While this thesis has advanced new ways to identify these divisions in knowledge, further work is required to better understand their implications -- and what can be done. Finally, this thesis suggests that future improvements in what places and people know will need to become less incremental and more transformational, if we are to successfully address the 'twin challenges' of poverty alleviation and climate change in the 21st century. Learning how to both navigate and drive the process of transformational change in productive capabilities could be the type of knowledge that matters more than anything else.
Supervisor: Farmer, J. Doyne ; Hepburn, Cameron Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available