The Productive Efficiency of Science and Technology Worldwide: A Frontier Analysis


  • Gustavo Ferro Universidad del CEMA (UCEMA) and CONICET
  • Carlos A. Romero CONICET-Universidad de Buenos Aires. Instituto Interdisciplinario de Economía Política (IIEP-BAIRES)



Knowledge, Science, Data Envelopment Analysis, Research, Productive Efficiency


We are interested in how codified knowledge is produced around the globe (which inputs are used to produce scientific articles and patented inventions) and the efficiency of the process (how do the best performers produce more with the same inputs or produce the same with less inputs). Using a Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) efficiency frontier approach, we aim to determine which countries are more efficient at producing codified knowledge. We proxy knowledge production by publications and patents, obtained through human (researchers) and non-human (R&D expenditure) resources. We built a 15-year database with more than 800 observations of these and other variables. Our findings enable us to distinguish efficiency by country, geographical region, and income area. We run four different specifications and correlate the results with partial productivity indexes seeking consistency. Under constant returns to scale, the most traditional producers of knowledge are not fully efficient. Instead, small countries with limited resources appear to be efficient. When we add environmental conditions, both sets of countries are efficient producers of knowledge outputs. High-income regions, on the one hand, and East Asia, North America, and Europe and Central Asia, on the other, are the most efficient regions at producing knowledge.

Author Biography

Carlos A. Romero, CONICET-Universidad de Buenos Aires. Instituto Interdisciplinario de Economía Política (IIEP-BAIRES)

Doctor in Economics (Universidad Nacional de La Plata), MSc from the University of Warwick and Bachelor of Economics from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). Researcher at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Economic Policy of Buenos Aires and professor of Industrial Organization at the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the UBA. He is dedicated to applied research using computed general equilibrium models, input-output analysis, network models, Data Envelopment Analysis, among other tools. He has published articles and participated in various research projects related to various sectors and areas of the economy: energy, tourism and public services regulation, regional, justice, among others.


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How to Cite

Ferro, G. and Romero, C. (2021) ’The Productive Efficiency of Science and Technology Worldwide: A Frontier Analysis ’, Journal on Efficiency and Responsibility in Education and Science, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 217–230



Research Paper