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Volumes of evidence: examining technical change in the last century through a new lens

Author

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  • Michelle Alexopoulos
  • Jon Cohen

Abstract

New indicators of technical change based on titles included in the catalogue of the Library of Congress and on Amazon.com's website are presented along with evidence that they do capture technological innovation. The indicators are used to chart the pattern and nature of technical change over the last century. A strong, causal relationship is found to exist between these indicators and changes in TFP and output per capita. Moreover, innovations in some subgroups have had a greater impact on output and productivity than in others and the key players change over time. Information technologies are currently the dominant subgroup. JEL classificatiion: E32, O3, O4, N1

Suggested Citation

  • Michelle Alexopoulos & Jon Cohen, 2011. "Volumes of evidence: examining technical change in the last century through a new lens," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(2), pages 413-450, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:44:y:2011:i:2:p:413-450
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5982.2011.01639.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Miles S. Kimball & John G. Fernald & Susanto Basu, 2006. "Are Technology Improvements Contractionary?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1418-1448, December.
    2. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald & Nicholas Oulton & Sylaja Srinivasan, 2003. "The Case of the Missing Productivity Growth: Or, Does Information Technology Explain why Productivity Accelerated in the US but not the UK?," NBER Working Papers 10010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," NBER Chapters, in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 287-343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Carol Corrado & Charles Hulten & Daniel Sichel, 2009. "Intangible Capital And U.S. Economic Growth," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(3), pages 661-685, September.
    5. Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "Why did productivity fall so much during the Great Depression?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 26(Spr).
    6. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
    7. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald & Nicholas Oulton & Sylaja Srinivasan, 2004. "The Case of the Missing Productivity Growth, or Does Information Technology Explain Why Productivity Accelerated in the United States But Not in the United Kingdom?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 9-82, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. John G. Fernald, 1999. "Roads to Prosperity? Assessing the Link between Public Capital and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 619-638, June.
    10. John Shea, 1999. "What Do Technology Shocks Do?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1998, volume 13, pages 275-322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. van Ark, Bart & Hao, Janet X. & Corrado, Carol & Hulten, Charles, 2009. "Measuring intangible capital and its contribution to economic growth in Europe," EIB Papers 3/2009, European Investment Bank, Economics Department.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. W. Erwin Diewert & Takanobu Nakajima & Alice Nakamura & Emi Nakamura & Masao Nakamura, 2011. "Returns to scale: concept, estimation and analysis of Japan's turbulent 1964–88 economy," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 44(2), pages 451-485, May.
    2. Michelle Alexopoulos & Jon Cohen, 2016. "The Medium Is the Measure: Technical Change and Employment, 1909—1949," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 792-810, October.
    3. Michelle Alexopoulos & Jon Cohen, 2012. "The Effects of Computer Technologies on the Canadian Economy: Evidence from New Direct Measures," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 23, pages 17-32, Spring.
    4. Ning Huang & Erwin Diewert, 2011. "Estimation of R&D depreciation rates: a suggested methodology and preliminary application," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(2), pages 387-412, May.
    5. Georg von Graevenitz & Stuart J. H. Graham & Amanda Myers, 2019. "Distance (Still) Hampers Diffusion of Innovations," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Competition Policy (CCP) 2019-05, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    6. Michelle Alexopoulos, 2011. "Read All about It!! What Happens Following a Technology Shock?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1144-1179, June.
    7. John G. Fernald & Robert E. Hall & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2017. "The Disappointing Recovery of Output after 2009," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 48(1 (Spring), pages 1-81.
    8. Bolboaca, Maria, 2019. "The Impact of Technological Change," Economics Working Paper Series 1902, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    9. Alexopoulos, Michelle & Tombe, Trevor, 2012. "Management matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 269-285.
    10. Michelle Alexopoulos & Alice O. Nakamura, 2011. "Grappling with the elephant: a symposium on technical change and productivity," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(2), pages 381-386, May.
    11. Frydman, Carola & Papanikolaou, Dimitris, 2018. "In search of ideas: Technological innovation and executive pay inequality," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 1-24.
    12. Andrew C. Chang & Phillip Li, 2015. "Is Economics Research Replicable? Sixty Published Papers from Thirteen Journals Say "Usually Not"," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2015-83, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    13. Richard B. Freeman & Alice O. Nakamura & Leonard I. Nakamura & Marc Prud’homme & Amanda Pyman, 2011. "Wal‐Mart innovation and productivity: a viewpoint," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 44(2), pages 486-508, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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