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The Digital Era, Viewed From a Perspective of Millennia of Economic Growth

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  • Jakub Growiec

Abstract

I propose a synthetic theory of economic growth and technological progress over the entire human history. Based on this theory as well as on the analogies with three previous eras (the hunter-gatherer era, the agricultural era and the industrial era) and the technological revolutions which initiated them, I draw conclusions for the contemporary digital era. I argue that each opening of a new era adds a new, previously inactive dimension of economic development, and redefines the key inputs and output of the production process. Economic growth accelerates across the consecutive eras, but there are also big shifts in factor shares and inequality. The two key inputs to the digital-era production process are hardware and software. Human skilled labor is complementary to hardware and substitutable with software, which increasingly includes sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. I also argue that economists have not yet designed sufficient measurement tools, economic policies and institutions appropriate for the digital-era economy

Suggested Citation

  • Jakub Growiec, 2018. "The Digital Era, Viewed From a Perspective of Millennia of Economic Growth," Working Papers 2018-034, Warsaw School of Economics, Collegium of Economic Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:sgh:kaewps:2018034
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    File URL: http://kolegia.sgh.waw.pl/pl/KAE/Documents/WorkingPapersKAE/WPKAE_2018_034.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Robert J. Gordon, 2016. "The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10544.
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    3. Benjamin F. Jones, 2009. "The Burden of Knowledge and the "Death of the Renaissance Man": Is Innovation Getting Harder?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 283-317.
    4. Nicholas Bloom & Charles I. Jones & John Van Reenen & Michael Webb, 2020. "Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(4), pages 1104-1144, April.
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    7. Jakub Growiec & Ingmar Schumacher, 2013. "Technological opportunity, long-run growth, and convergence," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 323-351, April.
    8. Jakub Growiec, 2007. "Beyond the Linearity Critique: The Knife-edge Assumption of Steady-state Growth," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 31(3), pages 489-499, June.
    9. Katarzyna Growiec & Jakub Growiec, 2014. "Trusting Only Whom You Know, Knowing Only Whom You Trust: The Joint Impact of Social Capital and Trust on Happiness in CEE Countries," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(5), pages 1015-1040, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic growth; technological progress; unified growth theory; digital economy; artificial intelligence.;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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