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The Sources of Growth in a Technologically Progressive Economy: the United States, 1899-1941

Author

Listed:
  • Bakker, Gerben

    (London School of Economics)

  • Crafts, Nicholas

    (University of Warwick)

  • Woltjer, Pieter

    (University of Groningen)

Abstract

We develop new aggregate and sectoral Total Factor Productivity (TFP) estimates for the United States between 1899 and 1941 through better coverage of sectors and better-measured labor quality, and find TFP-growth was lower than previously thought, broadly based across sectors, and strongly variant intertemporally. We then test and reject three prominent claims. First, the 1930s did not have the highest TFP-growth of the twentieth century. Second, TFP-growth was not predominantly caused by four ‘great inventions’. Third, TFP-growth was not driven indirectly by spillovers from great inventions such as electricity. Instead, the creative-destruction-friendly American innovation system was the main productivity driver.

Suggested Citation

  • Bakker, Gerben & Crafts, Nicholas & Woltjer, Pieter, 2017. "The Sources of Growth in a Technologically Progressive Economy: the United States, 1899-1941," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 341, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:341
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Fernald, John & Inklaar, Robert, 2022. "The UK Productivity "Puzzle" in an International Comparative Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 17321, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Nicholas Crafts, 2021. "The Sources Of British Economic Growth Since The Industrial Revolution: Not The Same Old Story," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(3), pages 697-709, July.
    6. Bakker, Gerben, 2021. "Infrastructure killed the electric car," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 112691, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    productivity growth; total factor productivity; great inventions; spillovers; United States — history JEL Classification: N11; N12; O47; O51.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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