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The resurgence of growth in the late 1990s: is information technology the story?

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  • Stephen D. Oliner
  • Daniel E. Sichel

Abstract

The performance of the U.S. economy over the past several years has been remarkable, including a rebound in labor productivity growth after nearly a quarter century of sluggish gains. To assess the role of information technology in the recent rebound, this paper re-examines the growth contribution of computers and related inputs with the same neoclassical framework that we have used in earlier work. ; Our results indicate that the contribution to productivity growth from the use of information technology - including computer hardware, software, and communication equipment - surged in the second half of the 1990s. In addition, technological advance in the production of computers appears to have contributed importantly to the speed-up in productivity growth. All in all, we estimate that the use of information technology and the production of computers accounted for about two-thirds of the 1 percentage point step-up in productivity growth between the first and second halves of the decade. Thus, to answer the question posed in the title of this paper, information technology largely is the story.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its journal Proceedings.

Volume (Year): (2000)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:2000:x:1

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Keywords: Information technology ; Productivity ; Computers;

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  1. Oecd, 1998. "Electronic Commerce: Prices and Consumer Issues for Three Products: Books, Compact Discs and Software," OECD Digital Economy Papers 32, OECD Publishing.
  2. Karl Whelan, 2000. "Computers, obsolescence, and productivity," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-06, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 1994. "Computers and Output Growth Revisited: How Big Is the Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 273-334.
  4. Erik Brynjolfsson & Michael D. Smith, 2000. "Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 563-585, April.
  5. Fischer, Stanley, 1988. "Symposium on the Slowdown in Productivity Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 3-7, Fall.
  6. Jeremy Greenwood & Boyan Jovanovic, 2001. "Accounting for Growth," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Analysis, pages 179-224 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Andreas Hornstein, 1999. "Growth accounting with technological revolutions," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 1-22.
  8. David, Paul A, 1990. "The Dynamo and the Computer: An Historical Perspective on the Modern Productivity Paradox," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 355-61, May.
  9. Stiroh, Kevin J, 1998. "Computers, Productivity, and Input Substitution," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(2), pages 175-91, April.
  10. Hulten, Charles R, 1978. "Growth Accounting with Intermediate Inputs," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 511-18, October.
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