The diffusion of innovations: A methodological reappraisal

Manuel Trajtenberg, Shlomo Yitzhaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of diffusion have traditionally relied on specific distributions, primarily the logistic, to characterize and estimate those processes. We argue that such an approach gives rise to serious problems of comparability and interpretation and may result in large biases in the estimates of the parameters of interest. We propose instead the Gini’s expected mean difference as a measure of diffusion speed. We discuss its advantages over the traditional approach, present a nonparametric estimation procedure, and tackle with it the problems of truncated processes and of intergroup comparisons. We also elaborate on the use of the hazard rate and suggest various extensions. The diffusion of computed tomography scanners is presented as an illustration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-47
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business and Economic Statistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989


  • Computed tomography scanners
  • Gini’s expected mean difference
  • Innovation diffusion
  • Logistic distribution
  • Technological change


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