Technological Change and Economic Performance

By Albert N. Link; Donald S. Siegel | Go to book overview

3

Early theoretical and empirical studies of economic growth

Formal studies relating technological change to productivity growth blossomed in the 1970s, possibly in response to the pervasive slowdown in productivity growth that occurred during this period. While the early post-Second World War researchers perceived the fundamental importance of technological change as an underlying force for productivity growth and thus for economic performance, their writings were less formal than those of their disciples. Nelson (1981:1030) perceptively observed that these early writers were “remarkable in foreshadowing the central conclusion of studies done somewhat later within the neoclassical framework. ”


An overview of the early studies

A number of post-Second World War researchers are selectively referenced in Table 3.1, along with the key findings from their investigations. Each researcher noted in the table used a variant of an output-over-all inputs index to construct a productivity index, and then to estimate so-measured increases in output, holding the quantity of inputs fixed. That is, each researcher estimated increases in resource efficiency. Presumably, these measured efficiency gains were, in part, the result

Table 3.1 Estimates of the rate of technological change, derived from seminal post-war studies of the US economy

Author

Time period

Measure of economic performance

Estimated average annual rate of technological change (in percent)

Schmookler (1952)

1869-78 to 1929-38

GNP per unit of input

1.36

Mills (1952)

1891-1900 to 1941-50

GNP per manhour

3.6

Schultz (1953)

1910 to 1950

Agriculture output per unit input

0.8 to 1.35

Kendrick (1956)

1899 to 1953

Private domestic output per unit of input

1.7

Solow (1957)

1909 to 1949

GNP per unit of labor

1.5

-13-

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Technological Change and Economic Performance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures viii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Some Preliminary Concepts 5
  • 3 - Early Theoretical and Empirical Studies of Economic Growth 13
  • 4 - The Production Function Concept of Technological Change 20
  • 5 - Alternative Frameworks for Measuring Technical Progress and Productivity 34
  • 6 - Trends in Productivity Growth 42
  • 7 - The Productivity Slowdown 49
  • 8 - Sources of Technical Knowledge 60
  • 9 - The Technology-Productivity Growth Relationship 70
  • 10 - Effects of Information Technology on Workers and Economic Performance 79
  • 11 - Research Partnerships and Economic Performance 98
  • Appendix A 121
  • Appendix B 124
  • Bibliography 126
  • Index 149
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