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Modeling the transition to a new economy: lessons from two technological revolutions

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  • Andrew Atkeson
  • Patrick J. Kehoe

Abstract

Many view the period after the Second Industrial Revolution as a paradigmatic example of a transition to a new economy following a technological revolution and conjecture that this historical experience is useful for understanding other transitions, including that after the Information Technology Revolution. We build a model of diffusion and growth to study transitions. We quantify the learning process in our model using data on the life cycle of U.S. manufacturing plants. This model accounts quantitatively for the productivity paradox, the slow diffusion of new technologies, and the ongoing investment in old technologies after the Second Industrial Revolution. The main lesson from our model for the Information Technology Revolution is that the nature of transition following a technological revolution depends on the historical context: transition and diffusion are slow only if agents have built up through learning a large amount of knowledge about old technologies before the transition begins.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 296.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Publication status: Published in American Economic Review> (Vol. 97, No. 1, March 2007, pp. 64-88)
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:296

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Keywords: Technological innovations;

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Cited by:
  1. Virgiliu Midrigan & Daniel Yi Xu, 2014. "Finance and Misallocation: Evidence from Plant-Level Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(2), pages 422-58, February.
  2. Desmet, Klaus & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2009. "Spatial growth and industry age," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2477-2502, November.
  3. D׳Erasmo, Pablo N. & Moscoso Boedo, Hernan J. & Şenkal, Aslı, 2014. "Misallocation, informality, and human capital: Understanding the role of institutions," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 122-142.
  4. D'Erasmo, Pablo N. & Moscoso Boedo, Hernan J., 2012. "Financial structure, informality and development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 286-302.
  5. De, Supriyo, 2014. "Intangible capital and growth in the ‘new economy’: Implications of a multi-sector endogenous growth model," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 25-42.
  6. Lustig, Hanno & Syverson, Chad & Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn, 2011. "Technological change and the growing inequality in managerial compensation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(3), pages 601-627, March.
  7. Parantap Basu & Alessandra Guariglia, 2008. "Does Low Education Delay Structural Transformation?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 104-127, July.
  8. Dan Cao & Jean-Paul L'Huillier, 2012. "Technological Revolutions and Debt Hangovers - Is There a Link?," EIEF Working Papers Series 1216, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Feb 2013.
  9. Yi-Chan Tsai, 2010. "News Shocks and Costly Technology Adoption," 2010 Meeting Papers 567, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Safarzynska, Karolina & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2011. "Industry evolution, rational agents and the transition to sustainable electricity production," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 6440-6452, October.
  11. Solomon, Bernard Daniel, 2010. "Firm leverage, household leverage and the business cycle," MPRA Paper 26504, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Oleg Itskhoki & Benjamin Moll, 2014. "Optimal Development Policies with Financial Frictions," NBER Working Papers 19994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Daniel Schiess & Roger Wehrli, 2008. "The Calm Before the Storm? - Anticipating the Arrival of General Purpose Technologies," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 08/81, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
  14. Safarzyńska, Karolina & Frenken, Koen & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2012. "Evolutionary theorizing and modeling of sustainability transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1011-1024.
  15. Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2014. "Frictionless Technology Diffusion: The Case of Tractors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1368-91, April.

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