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Prices of High-Tech Products, Mismeasurement, and Pace of Innovation

Author

Listed:
  • David Byrne
  • Stephen Oliner
  • Daniel Sichel

Abstract

Two recent papers have made compelling cases that mismeasurement of prices of high tech products cannot explain the slow pace of labor productivity growth that has prevailed since the mid-2000s. Does that result indicate that mismeasurement of high-tech products has limited implications for patterns of economic growth? The answer in this paper is “no.” We demonstrate that the understatement of price declines for high-tech products in official measures has a dramatic effect on the pattern of MFP growth across sectors. In particular, we show that correcting this mismeasurement implies faster MFP growth in high-tech sectors and slower MFP advance outside the high-tech sector. If MFP growth is taken as a rough proxy for the pace of innovation, our results suggest that innovation in the tech sector has been more rapid than the rate that would be inferred from official statistics (and less rapid outside high-tech). These results deepen the productivity puzzle. If the pace of innovation in high-tech sectors has been more rapid than indicated by official statistics, then it is perhaps even more puzzling that overall labor productivity growth has been so sluggish in recent years.

Suggested Citation

  • David Byrne & Stephen Oliner & Daniel Sichel, 2017. "Prices of High-Tech Products, Mismeasurement, and Pace of Innovation," NBER Working Papers 23369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23369
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lee Branstetter & Daniel Sichel, 2017. "The Case for an American Productivity Revival," Policy Briefs PB17-26, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    2. David M. Byrne, 2015. "Domestic Electronics Manufacturing : Medical, Military, and Aerospace Equipment and What We Don't Know about High-Tech Productivity," FEDS Notes 2015-06-02, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:

    1. Wim Naudé & Paula Nagler, 2018. "Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Productivity in Germany, 1871-2015," SPRU Working Paper Series 2018-02, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • L63 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Microelectronics; Computers; Communications Equipment
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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