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Believe it or not! The 1930s was a technologically progressive decade

  • Michelle Alexopoulos

    (University of Toronto)

We present new indicators of technological change for the period 1909-49 for the U.S. based on information contained in the Library of Congress’ catalogue. We use these indictors to estimate the connections between technological change and economic activity, and investigate the relationship between fluctuations in innovative activity and the Great Depression. We find: (1) statistically significant links between technological change, output and productivity, (2) the slowdown in technological progress in the early 1930s does not appear to have contributed significantly to the Great Depression, and (3) the remarkable acceleration in technical change after 1934 played a role in the recovery.

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File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2007/paper_195.pdf
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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2007 Meeting Papers with number 195.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed007:195
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Raff, Daniel M. G., 1991. "Intra-Industry Heterogeneity and the Great Depression: The American Motor Vehicles Industry, 1929–1935," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(02), pages 317-331, June.
  2. Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "Why did productivity fall so much during the Great Depression?," Staff Report 285, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441.
  4. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1.
  5. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  6. Evsey D. Domar, 1962. "On Total Productivity and All That," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 597.
  7. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1961. "Introduction to "Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing"," NBER Chapters, in: Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing, pages 3-14 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2004. "The Source of Historical Economic Fluctuations: An Analysis using Long-Run Restrictions," NBER Working Papers 10631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Martha L. Olney, 1999. "Avoiding Default: The Role of Credit in the Consumption Collapse of 1930," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 319-335.
  10. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1961. "Appendices and Index to "Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing"," NBER Chapters, in: Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing, pages 465-664 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Griliches, Zvi, 1990. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
  12. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1961. "Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn61-1.
  13. John Shea, 1999. "What Do Technology Shocks Do?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1998, volume 13, pages 275-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Alexander J. Field, 2003. "The Most Technologically Progressive Decade of the Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1399-1413, September.
  16. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "New Deal policies and the persistence of the Great Depression: a general equilibrium analysis," Working Papers 597, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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