IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Information technology and productivity: where are we now and where are we going?

  • Stephen D. Oliner
  • Daniel E. Sichel

Productivity growth in the U.S. economy jumped during the second half of the 1990s, a resurgence that many analysts linked to developments in information technology (IT). However, shortly after this consensus emerged, demand for IT products fell sharply, leading to a debate about the connection between IT and productivity and about the sustainability of the faster growth. ; This article contributes to this debate in two ways. First, the authors provide updated estimates of the proximate sources of growth using a growth accounting framework that focuses on information technology. Their results confirm that the acceleration in labor productivity after 1995 was driven by the greater use of IT capital goods and the more rapid efficiency gains in the production of these goods. Second, to assess whether the pickup in productivity growth is sustainable, the authors analyze the steady-state properties of a multisector growth model. This exercise generates a range for labor productivity growth of 2 percent to 2 3/4 percent per year, which suggests that much-and possibly all-of the resurgence is sustainable. ; The analysis also highlights that future increases in output will depend on the pace of technological advance in the semiconductor industry and on the extent to which products embodying these advances diffuse through the economy.

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:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2002)
Issue (Month): Q3 ()
Pages: 15-44

in new window

Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2002:i:q3:p:15-44:n:v.87no.3
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1000 Peachtree St., N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30309
Phone: 404-521-8500
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Email:

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. Kiley, Michael T., 2001. "Computers and growth with frictions: aggregate and disaggregate evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 171-215, December.
  2. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 2001. "Productivity growth in the 1990s: technology, utilization, or adjustment?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 117-165, December.
  3. Dale W. Jorgenson & Mun S. Ho & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2006. "Projecting Productivity Growth: Lessons from the US Growth Resurgence," Chapters, in: The New Economy and Beyond, chapter 2 Edward Elgar.
  4. Karl Whelan, 2001. "A two-sector approach to modeling U.S. NIPA data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-04, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2000. "The Resurgence of Growth in the Late 1990s: Is Information Technology the Story?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 3-22, Fall.
  6. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: U.S. Economic Growth in the Information Age," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 125-236.
  7. Robert J. Gordon, 2000. "Does the "New Economy" Measure Up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 49-74, Fall.
  8. Robert J. Gordon, 2002. "Technology and Economic Performance in the American Economy," NBER Working Papers 8771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Karl Whelan, 2002. "Computers, obsolescence, and productivity," Open Access publications 10197/204, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  10. Charles Steindel & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2001. "Productivity: what is it and why do we care about it?," Staff Reports 122, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  11. Ana M. Aizcorbe, 2002. "Why are semiconductor prices falling so fast? Industry estimates and implications for productivity measurement," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-20, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Charles R. Hulten, 1978. "Growth Accounting with Intermediate Inputs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 511-518.
  13. Roberts John M., 2001. "Estimates of the Productivity Trend Using Time-Varying Parameter Techniques," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-32, July.
  14. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 1-32, March.
  15. Karl Whelan, 1999. "Tax incentives, material inputs, and the supply curve for capital equipment," Open Access publications 10197/248, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  16. Daniel Aaronson & Daniel G. Sullivan, 2001. "Growth in worker quality," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 53-74.
  17. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2002:i:q3:p:15-44:n:v.87no.3. 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: (Meredith Rector)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.