Planning Studies Centre

italian version

The “Matek Report”: Summary of its findings

The Report establishes the final result of the Matek research project on the ‘construction of intersectorial technological matrices', financed by the National Research Council (CNR).

The Report provides a large review of sector studies concerning the technological change and the input-output analysis, which is already being performed in Italy and abroad, in the framework of the research, in which the Planning Studies Centre has had the leading role, for a new system of econometric modelling aimed at economic programming.

In a first, introductory chapter, the importance of using econometric models for programming purposes is being discussed.

In a second chapter, a proposal of a “system of models” for planning is being presented, which constitutes one of the more specific contributions – given by the Centre – in the field of econometric methodology aimed at programming policies (here is reappraised a paper presented by Professor Archibugi at a UN seminar in Moscow, URSS, in 1974). In this “system of models” proposed by the Planning Studies Centre, the conventional leontievian input-output tables play a central role, but in a very rich context of other models emphasising their potentiality to be used for planning purposes.

In a third chapter, the methodology and epistemology, which are at the base of the programming approach (as Ragnar Frisch, who was one of its first theorisers, used to call it), are dealt with; an approach that constitutes also the base of such a “system of models”, in which – as said before – the leontievian input-output matrices play a central role.

Finally, in a fourth chapter, a critical review of more recent literature on the evaluation of technical coefficients of leontievian matrices is being performed, in the light of the use of such matrices for planning purposes. This chapter represents a certain updating of the methods concerning the construction of the technological matrices. The review of the fourth chapter is articulated as follows:

•  after a first paragraph, which exposes a general frame of the examined, methodological aspects,

•  a second paragraph is dedicated to a reappraisal of the difficult relations between the reality of technological change and the methods of economic analysis in a historical perspective;

•  in the third paragraph, it has been approached the more specific thematic of forecasting with regards to the technical coefficients of the input-output model, concluding that, instead of extrapolating the technical coefficients from an input-output table elaborated for past use, it is opportune to proceed to construct a brand new matrix of technical coefficients, based on direct information of a technical engineering nature;

•  in the fourth paragraph, some definitions – borrowed from the economists - concerning technological change, with which the shapes and the economic implications of the phenomenon are being précised, are introduced;

•  the fifth paragraph is dedicated to the description of a recent formulation of the input-output scheme deriving from its founder Wassili Leontief and is especially suitable for an analysis of the technological change;

•  the sixth and seventh paragraphs screen recent developments in the analysis of the technological change, in order to emphasize the characteristics and the possible forecasting methods of the structural changes in the medium (5-10 years) and in the very long term (20-30 years);

•  the eighth paragraph is dedicated to the analysis of a projection method of technological scenarios based on the input-output model, which has recently been pointed out by the experts of the US Office of Technology Assessment, and which presents some original aspects;

•  in the ninth paragraph, the structure of an input-output model is described in physical quantities, based on the definition of a technological matrix in which the technological alternatives coexist in form of typical productions of different periods in time. Such a model is proposed for the simulation of the impact of the technological change as it permits one to forecast the needs of resources which have been globally activated by the demand of different technological ‘generations' of products;

•  considering that for the technological matrix the perspective evaluation of the coefficients of input and of output, in order to be practicable, must be limited to a coherent set or ‘family' of innovations, in the tenth paragraph a model of inter-industrial diffusion is described which is appropriate to forecast the evolving trajectories of families of innovations, to be used as a support to the construction of the technological matrix;

•  the eleventh and twelfth paragraphs are dedicated to the dual formulation of input-output equations, the so-called prices model, and to the use made of this model by the team of Wassili Leontief of New York University and Ann Carter at Boston. The model is useful in quantifying the economic benefit coming from the adoption of an innovation, and also to forecast in which way both the companies of different sectors (in form of increased profit margins) and the final consumer (in form of price reductions) would benefit;

finally, the thirteenth paragraph contains the description of a coherent framework of models and databases which emerges from the methodological review on the technological change and the input-output analysis; and this, if implemented with reference to the Italian economy, can constitute a useful instrument of analysis of both the technological policy and the long term changes.


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