Something new under the sun. The role of new technologies in a growing economy
This paper inquires into radical innovations and into their role to promote economic growth. Can an economic system grow only in quantitative terms, or the process of structural change, that underlines the emergence of new technologies, is an essential ingredient? To put it philosophically: is there something new under the sun of a growing economy or not? The paper attempts to deal with this quest both in terms of analysis and in terms of evidence. In terms of analysis, it conceptualizes the taxonomy of innovation, proposed by Chris Freeman (1994), in an input-output framework. It shows how the rate of growth will eventually peter out without the essential contribution of new sectors in the economy. In terms of evidence, it brings the case of electronics to study the impact of a new technology in changing the economic structure and the knowledge structure of the UK and US economy between the 1970s and 1990s. The changes are profound, and they may help to start explaining a sort of reverse of Solow’s paradox. Namely, computer are everywhere, now also in the statistics of the tertiary sector.
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