DP13039 | Why Has Economic Growth Slowed When Innovation Appears To Be Accelerating?

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07/06/2018

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Abstract

U. S. economic growth slowed by more than half from 3.2 percent per year during 1970-2006 to only 1.4 percent during 2006-16, and this decline was divided equally between slower growth in hours of work and slower growth in output per hour. In explaining slower growth in hours, particular emphasis is placed on the slower secular rise of life expectancy in the U.S. compared to other developed countries. Further contributions to slowing growth are made by a decline in the population share of both legal and illegal immigration and a turnaround from rising to declining labor force participation. Causes of declining productivity growth begin with the slowdown in the rate of increase of educational attainment. Why did productivity growth decline after 2006 despite an increase in the rate at which new U.S. patents were issued in 2006-16 compared to earlier decades? Part of the slowdown is attributed to the maturity of the IT revolution, which also helps to explain the trajectory of the college wage premium. Aspects of the productivity growth slowdown include the declining productivity of research workers, diminishing returns to drug innovation, and the evolutionary rather than revolutionary impact of robots and artificial intelligence.