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Understanding Digital Technology's Evolution and the Path of Measured Productivity Growth: Present and Future in the Mirror of the Past

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  • David, P.A.

Abstract

Three styles of explanation have been advanced by economists seeking to account for the so-called "productivity paradox". The coincidence of a persisting slowdown in the growth of measured total factor productivity (TFP) in the US, since the mid-1970's with the wave of information technology (It) innovations, is said by some to be an illusion due to the mismeasurement of real output growth; by others to expose the mistaken expectations about the benefits of computerization; and by still others to reflect the amount of time, and the volume of intangible investments in "learning", and the time required for ancillary innovations that allow the new digital technologies to be applied in ways that are reflected in measured productivity growth. This paper shows that rather than viewing these as competing hypotheses, the dynamics of the transition to a new technological and economic regime based upon a general purpose technology (GPT) should be understood to be likely to give rise to all three "effects."

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by United Nations World Employment Programme- in its series Papers with number 99-011.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:unwoem:99-011

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Postal: International Center for Economic Growth, 243 Kearny Street, San Francisco, California 94108.

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Keywords: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ; ECONOMIC GROWTH;

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References

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  1. Paul David & Gavin Wright, 1999. "General Purpose Technologies and Surges in Productivity: Historical Reflections on the Future of the ICT Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W31, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1996. "The Origins of Technology-Skill Complementarity," NBER Working Papers 5657, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. W. Michael Cox & Richard Alm, 1998. "The right stuff: America's move to mass customization," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, pages 3-26.
  4. Robert J. Gordon, 1996. "Problems in the Measurement and Performance of Service-Sector Productivity in the United States," NBER Working Papers 5519, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. W. Michael Cox & Roy J. Ruffin, 1998. "What should economists measure? The implications of mass production vs. mass customization," Working Papers 9803, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  6. Abramovitz, Moses & David, Paul A, 1973. "Reinterpreting Economic Growth: Parables and Realities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 428-39, May.
  7. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin Hitt, 1997. "Paradox Lost? Firm-level Evidence of High Returns to Information Systems Spending," Working Paper Series 162, MIT Center for Coordination Science.
  8. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin Hitt, 1996. "Paradox Lost? Firm-Level Evidence on the Returns to Information Systems Spending," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(4), pages 541-558, April.
  9. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
  10. Martin Neil Baily & Robert J. Gordon, 1988. "The Productivity Slowdown, Measurement Issues, and the Explosion of Computer Power," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 347-432.
  11. W. Erwin Diewert & Kevin J. Fox, 1999. "Can measurement error explain the productivity paradox?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(2), pages 251-280, April.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Nirvikar Singh, 2004. "Information Technology and India’s Economic Development," Development and Comp Systems 0412007, EconWPA.
  2. Simona Iammarino & Cecilia Jona-Lasini & Susanna Mantegazza, 2004. "Labour productivity, ICT and regions: The revival of Italian “dualism”?," SPRU Working Paper Series 127, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  3. Bugamelli, M. & Pagano, P. & Paterno, F. & Pozzolo, A.F. & Rossi, S. & Schivardi, F., 2003. "Ingredients for The New Economy: How Much Does Finance Matter?," EIFC - Technology and Finance Working Papers 31, United Nations University, Institute for New Technologies.
  4. Paul A. David, 2005. "Productivity growth prospects and the new economy in historical perspective," Economic History 0502005, EconWPA.
  5. Mauro Napoletano & Jean-Luc Gaffard, 2009. "Country Size, Appropriate Policy, and Economic Performance: Some Evidence from OECD Countries," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2009-08, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  6. Boyer, Robert, 2001. "La "nouvelle économie" au futur antérieur : histoire, théories, géographie," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 0113, CEPREMAP.
  7. Paul A. David, 2001. "An Introduction to the Economy of the Knowledge Society," Economics Series Working Papers 84, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Sandro Sapio & Grid Thoma, 2006. "The Growth of Industrial Sectors: Theoretical Insights and Empirical Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," LEM Papers Series 2006/09, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  9. Takase, Kae & Murota, Yasuhiro, 2004. "The impact of IT investment on energy: Japan and US comparison in 2010," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(11), pages 1291-1301, July.
  10. Hiroshi Ohashi, 2003. "Econometric analysis of price index for home video cassette recorders in the U.S., 1978-1987," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 179-197.
  11. Consoli, Davide & Patrucco, Pier Paolo & Quatraro, Francesco, 2006. "Un'Analisi Comparata delle Performance Tecnologiche nel Nord-Ovest Sabaudo nel Lungo Periodo nel Contesto delle RegioniItaliane: Gli Anni 1980-2001," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 200605, University of Turin.
  12. Carolina Castaldi & Giovanni Dosi, 2008. "Technical Change and Economic Growth: Some Lessons from Secular Patterns and Some Conjectures on the Current Impact of ICT Technology," LEM Papers Series 2008/01, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  13. Boyer, Robert, 2001. "L'économiste face aux innovations qui font époque : les relations entre histoire et théorie," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 0112, CEPREMAP.
  14. Alan Hughes & Michael S Scott Morton, 2005. "ICT and productivity growth - the paradox resolved?," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp316, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  15. Carolina Castaldi & Sandro Sapio, 2008. "Growing like mushrooms? Sectoral evidence from four large European economies," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 509-527, August.

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