The so-called index of economic complexity, based on nations’ exports, was initially proposed as an alternative to traditional macroeconomic metrics just as the scientific productivity of countries which has also been deemed as a better predictor of economic growth. Adequate scrutiny to the relationship between these two factors, however, remains little explored. This paper aims to examine the relationship between economic complexity and scientific production while identifying which areas of knowledge hold to this relationship best. By applying panel data techniques to a sample of 91 countries between 2003 and 2014, we found that scientific productivity in basic sciences and engineering has a significant positive effect on the economic complexity of countries. This relationship, however, only remains stable for high-income countries, where university-industry-government capabilities interact to stimulate and generate innovation and strategies for economic growth of firms.
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