The Impact of ICT on Growth in Transition Economies
The paper analyzes the multi-channel contribution of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to output and labour productivity growth in eight transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), i.e. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia between 1995-2001. The impact of ICT on growth in the new five EU member countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) was higher than the average for the former EU-15. Hence, ICT - through both the capital deepening and TFP growth in ICT-producing sector - contributed to convergence of the level of income between those countries and the EU-15. This was however not the case for Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia, where ICT contribution to growth was lower than in the EU- 15. ICT thus led to income deconvergence. Future growth prospects of the CEE countries, including Russia, will largely depend on further ICT investments and an ability to ensure their productive use on a macro, industry and micro level. The paper speculates that ICT capital will have a significant contribution to long-term growth in Poland, taken as a proxy for other CEE countries, on the level of 15% of the projected average annual GDP growth of 4% until 2025. This projection does not however take into account the potential for emergence of new applications of ICT, which could stimulate further increases in aggregate productivity. Neither does it measure the possible contribution from TFP growth in ICT sector and from the spillover effects of ICT production and use. The paper argues that the potential of ICT will not however be realized without changes in business models and an increase in the quality of human capital and ICT skills. On the macrolevel, as indicated by the New Economy Indicator, ICT will not benefit CEE countries without them making consistent progress in economic, institutional and regulatory environment.
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