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


  • Michelle Alexopoulos
  • Jon Cohen


New indicators of technical change based on titles included in the catalogue of the Library of Congress and on'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

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Alexopoulos, Michelle & Tombe, Trevor, 2012. "Management matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 269-285.
    3. Carola Frydman & Dimitris Papanikolaou, 2015. "In Search of Ideas: Technological Innovation and Executive Pay Inequality," NBER Working Papers 21795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; 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
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations


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