Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

General Purpose Technologies and Surges in Productivity: Historical Reflections on the Future of the ICT Revolution

Contents:

Author Info

  • Paul A. David

    ()
    (All Souls College, Oxford)

  • Gavin Wright

    ()
    (Stanford University)

Abstract

The phenomenon of recurring prolonged swings in the total factor productivity (TFP) growth rate is approached in this paper by examining a particular episode in earlier twentieth century economic history. A marked acceleration of productivity growth in U.S. manufacturing occurred after World War I, and was the main driver of the absolute and relative rise of the private domestic economy’s TFP residual. This discontinuity reflected the elaboration and adoption of a new factory regime based upon the electric dynamo, a general purpose technology (GPT) that brought significant fixed-capital savings while simultaneously raising labor productivity in a wide array of manufacturing operations. But, rather than offering a purely technological explanation of the productivity surge of the 1920s, a more complex conceptualization of the dynamics of GPT diffusion is proposed. This highlights both the generic and the differentiating aspects of U.S. industrial electrification in comparison with that of the contemporary UK. Explicit historical contextualization of the GPT concept also sheds further light on the puzzling late twentieth century productivity slowdown, and it points to some contemporary portents of a future phase of more rapid total factor productivity growth.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2267/A4.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _031.

as in new window
Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 01 Sep 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_031

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. David Stead, 1998. "An Arduous and Unprofitable Undertaking: The Enclosure of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _026, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  2. Antonia Taddei, 1999. "London Clubs in the Late Nineteenth Century," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W28, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Avner Offer, 1996. "The American Automobile Frenzy of the 1950s," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W11, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Paul David, 1997. "Path Dependence and the Quest for Historical Economics: One More chorus of Ballad of QWERTY," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W20, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. Feinstein, Charles H. & Temin, Peter & Toniolo, Gianni, 1997. "The European Economy Between the Wars," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774815.
  6. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
  7. David, P.A., 1989. "Computer And Dynamo: The Modern Productivity Paradox In A Not-Too Distant Mirror," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 339, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  8. David Stead, 1998. "An Arduous and Unprofitable Undertaking: The Enclosure of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire," Economics Series Working Papers 1998-W26, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Tim Leunig, 1998. "New Answers to Old Questions: Transport Costs and the Slow Adoption of Ring Spinning in Lancashire," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _022, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  10. Avner Offer, 1998. "Epidemics of Abundance: Overeating and Slimming in the USA and Britain since the 1950s," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _025, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  11. Liam Brunt,, 1995. "Turning Water into Wine New Methods of Calculating Farm Output and New Insights into Rising Crop Yields during the Agricultural Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _002, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  12. Voth, Hans-Joachim, 1998. "Time and Work in Eighteenth-Century London," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 29-58, March.
  13. Ed Butchart, 1997. "Unemployment and Non-Employment in Interwar Britain," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _016, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  14. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "The Origins Of Technology-Skill Complementarity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 693-732, August.
  15. James Foreman Peck, 1996. "Technological Lock-in and the Power Source for the Motor Car," Economics Series Working Papers 1996-W07, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  16. Liam Brunt, 1997. "Nature or Nurture? Explaining English Wheat Yields in the Agricultural Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _019, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  17. Antonia Taddei, 1999. "London Clubs in the Late Nineteenth Century," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _028, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  18. Harberger, Arnold C, 1998. "A Vision of the Growth Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 1-32, March.
  19. Ben Cooper & Cecilia Garcia-Penalosa, 1998. "Status Effects and Negative Utility Growth," Economics Series Working Papers 1998-W22, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  20. Ed Butchart, 1997. "Unemploymentand Non-Employment in Interwar Britain," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W16, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  21. Liam Brunt, 1995. "Turning Water into Wine New Methods of Calculating Farm Output and New Insights into Rising Crop Yields during the Agricultural Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 1995-W02, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  22. David M. Engstrom, 1997. "The Economic Determinants of Ethnic Segregation in Post-War Britain," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  23. Liam Brunt, 1997. "Nature or Nurture? Explaining English Wheat Yields in the Agricultural Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W19, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  24. Broadberry, Stephen N & Wagner, Karin, 1994. "Human Capital and Productivity in Manufacturing during the Twentieth Century: Britain, Germany and the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 1036, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. Hans-Joachim Voth & Dan H. Andersen, 1997. "Neutrality and Mediterranean Shipping Under Danish Flag, 1750-1807," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W18, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  26. David M. Engstrom, 1997. "The Economic Determinants of Ethnic Segregation in Post-War Britain," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _012, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_031. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Maxine Collett).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.