May 2024

IZA DP No. 17026: R&D Decisions and Productivity Growth: Evidence from Switzerland and the Netherlands

Sabien Dobbelaere, Michael D. König, Andrin Spescha, Martin Wörter

The fraction of R&D active firms decreased in Switzerland but increased in the Netherlands from 2000-2016. This paper examines reasons for this divergence and its impact on productivity growth. Our micro-data reveal R&D concentration among high-productivity firms in Switzerland. Innovation support sustains firms' R&D activities in both countries. Our structural growth model identifies the impact of innovation, imitation and R&D costs on firms' R&D decisions. R&D costs gained importance in Switzerland but not in the Netherlands, explaining the diverging R&D trends. Yet, counterfactual analyses show that policies should prioritize enhancing innovation and imitation success over cost reduction to boost productivity growth.