It has long been recognized that most standard of living increases are associated with advances in technology, not the accumulation of capital. Yet it has also become clear that what truly separates developed from less developed countries is not just a gap in resources or output but a gap in knowledge. In fact, the pace at which developing countries grow is largely determined by the pace at which they close that gap.
Therefore, how countries learn and become more productive is key to understanding how they grow and develop, especially over the long term. In Creating a Learning Society, Joseph E. Stiglitz and Bruce C. Greenwald spell out the implications of this insight for both economic theory and policy. Taking as a starting point Kenneth J. Arrow’s 1962 paper “Learning by Doing,” they explain why the production of knowledge differs from that of other goods and why market economies alone are typically not efficient in the production and transmission of knowledge. Closing knowledge gaps, or helping laggards learn, is central to growth and development.