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Understanding Digital Technology's Evolution and the Path of Measured Productivity Growth: Present and Future in the Mirror of the Past

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  • David, P.A.

Abstract

Three styles of explanation have been advanced by economists seeking to account for the so-called "productivity paradox". The coincidence of a persisting slowdown in the growth of measured total factor productivity (TFP) in the US, since the mid-1970's with the wave of information technology (It) innovations, is said by some to be an illusion due to the mismeasurement of real output growth; by others to expose the mistaken expectations about the benefits of computerization; and by still others to reflect the amount of time, and the volume of intangible investments in "learning", and the time required for ancillary innovations that allow the new digital technologies to be applied in ways that are reflected in measured productivity growth. This paper shows that rather than viewing these as competing hypotheses, the dynamics of the transition to a new technological and economic regime based upon a general purpose technology (GPT) should be understood to be likely to give rise to all three "effects."

Suggested Citation

  • David, P.A., 2000. "Understanding Digital Technology's Evolution and the Path of Measured Productivity Growth: Present and Future in the Mirror of the Past," Papers 99-011, United Nations World Employment Programme-.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:unwoem:99-011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. W. Erwin Diewert & Kevin J. Fox, 1999. "Can measurement error explain the productivity paradox?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(2), pages 251-280, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nirvikar Singh, 2004. "Information Technology and India’s Economic Development," Development and Comp Systems 0412007, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Consoli, Davide & Rentocchini, Francesco, 2015. "A taxonomy of multi-industry labour force skills," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(5), pages 1116-1132.
    3. Simona Iammarino & Cecilia Jona-Lasini & Susanna Mantegazza, 2004. "Labour productivity, ICT and regions: The revival of Italian “dualism”?," SPRU Working Paper Series 127, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    4. Paul A. David, 2001. "An Introduction to the Economy of the Knowledge Society," Economics Series Working Papers 84, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Carolina Castaldi & Giovanni Dosi, 2008. "Technical Change and Economic Growth: Some Lessons from Secular Patterns and Some Conjectures on the Current Impact of ICT Technology," LEM Papers Series 2008/01, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    6. Carolina Castaldi & Sandro Sapio, 2008. "Growing like mushrooms? Sectoral evidence from four large European economies," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 509-527, August.
    7. Mauro Napoletano & Jean-Luc Gaffard, 2009. "Country Size, Appropriate Policy, and Economic Performance: Some Evidence from OECD Countries," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2009-08, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    8. Takase, Kae & Murota, Yasuhiro, 2004. "The impact of IT investment on energy: Japan and US comparison in 2010," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(11), pages 1291-1301, July.
    9. Paul A. David, 2005. "Productivity growth prospects and the new economy in historical perspective," Economic History 0502005, EconWPA.
    10. Hiroshi Ohashi, 2003. "Econometric analysis of price index for home video cassette recorders in the U.S., 1978-1987," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 179-197.
    11. Sandro Sapio & Grid Thoma, 2006. "The Growth of Industrial Sectors: Theoretical Insights and Empirical Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," LEM Papers Series 2006/09, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    12. Consoli, Davide & Patrucco, Pier Paolo & Quatraro, Francesco, 2006. "Un'Analisi Comparata delle Performance Tecnologiche nel Nord-Ovest Sabaudo nel Lungo Periodo nel Contesto delle RegioniItaliane: Gli Anni 1980-2001," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 200605, University of Turin.
    13. Alan Hughes & Michael S Scott Morton, 2005. "ICT and productivity growth - the paradox resolved?," Working Papers wp316, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ; ECONOMIC GROWTH;

    JEL classification:

    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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