Os americanos inovam, e os nórdicos copiam. Esta é uma ideia muito em voga, que explica por que é que os países do Norte da Europa conseguem taxas de crescimento económico elevadas apesar do grande peso do sector público. Segundo esta perspectiva, estes países limitam-se a parasitar a investigação de ponta que apenas o ‘puro’ capitalismo americano consegue providenciar.
Em Are the Nordic countries really less innovative than the US?, Niku Mattanen, Mika Maliranta e Vesa Virihala contestam esta ideia, argumentando que os factos estão, pura e simplesmente, errados. Os economistas mostram como os dados que estão na base desta hipótese são débeis e propõem uma série de outros indicadores, segundo os quais até sãoos países nórdicos que aparecem melhor na fotografia: % do PIB gasto em I&D, produtividade no sector industrial, densidade de investigadores e taxas de realocação de sectores entre empregos.
In their related working paper, Acemoglu et al. (2012a) use two measures to argue that the US is more innovative than the Nordic countries: the number of US patents and GDP per capita. Neither of these is a very good comparative measure of innovation.
It is quite understandable that US companies dominate patent filings in the US. For an international comparison, the so-called triadic patents – i.e. patents filed for the same invention in the US, EU and Japan – are a more suitable measure. By this indicator, US innovation activity lags behind that of Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The same result obtains when comparing some of the most frequently used indicators of innovation inputs, such as business expenditure on research and development, the share of researchers in total employment, and even the stock of venture capital as a share of GDP (Table 1). In Table 1, we don’t present statistics for Norway and Iceland because, arguably, they are special cases due to their large natural resources.
As Acemoglu et al. (2012a, 2012b) stress, innovation requires risk-taking. In a very innovative economy, one would therefore expect to find intensive job creation and job destruction, as firms that are successful in innovative activities expand rapidly while others are forced to exit the market.
The available data do not suggest that the US economy is unambiguously more dynamic than the Nordic economies (Bassanini and Marianna 2009, OECD 2004). In Denmark, worker reallocation is more intensive, and in Finland almost as intensive as in the US (Table 1). Moreover, time series from the US indicate a marked decline in job and worker flows since the late 1990s (Davis et al. 2012), whereas – at least in Finland – both flows have stayed intensive (Ilmakunnas and Maliranta 2011).