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Ricardo Hausmann, César A. Hidalgo, et al. 2011
From the preface:
The Atlas of Economic Complexity attempts to measure the amount of productive knowledge that each country holds. Our measure of productive knowledge can account for the enormous income differences between the nations of the world and has the capacity to predict the rate at which countries will grow. In fact, it is much more predictive than other well known development indicators, such as those that attempt to measure competitiveness, governance and education.
A central contribution of this Atlas is the creation of a map that captures the similarity of products in terms of their knowledge requirements. This map provides paths through which productive knowledge is more easily accumulated. We call this map, or network, the product space, and use
it to locate each country, illustrating their current productive capabilities and the products that lie nearby.
Ultimately, this Atlas views economic development as a social learning process, but one that is rife with pitfalls and dangers. Countries accumulate productive knowledge by developing the capacity to make a larger variety of products of increasing complexity. This process involves trial and error. It is a risky journey in search of the possible. Entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers play a fundamental role in this economic exploration.
By providing rankings, we wish to clarify the scope of the achievable, as revealed by the experience of others. By tracking progress, we offer feedback regarding current trends. By providing maps, we do not pretend to tell potential explorers where to go, but to pinpoint what is out there and what routes may be shorter or more secure. We hope this will empower these explorers with valuable information that will encourage them to take on the challenge and thus speed up the process of economic development.