PUBLICATION Journal article

Fuel for economic growth?

Using data for 134 countries, we document that countries deriving a larger share of their energy from fossil fuel are richer and grow faster. We then set up an endogenous growth model where final output is produced with a non-energy and two substitutable energy intermediate goods: fossil fuel and biofuel. With non-energy and energy goods being gross complements, and with higher costs for improving the energy efficiency for biofuel than for fossil fuel, there exist two balanced growth paths: one with low growth where energy is derived from biofuel and one with high growth where energy is sourced from fossil fuel. Heterogeneity in initial technology levels can generate the Great Divergence. The demand for fossil fuel in technologically advanced countries drives up its price, thereby reducing demand for fossil fuel in less advanced countries that instead choose the more stagnant energy input.

Keywords: Energy, Great divergence, growth, Industrial revolution, Malthusian stagnation, Technological progress

Gars. J. and C. Olovsson. 2019. Fuel for economic growth?. Journal of Economic Theory 184:104941.