chapter  7
11 Pages

The productivity slowdown

Productivity growth is a fundamental contributor to overall economic well-being. Because of this, the persistent slowdown in productivity growth that began in the mid-1960s in many industrialized countries, that increased in the early 1970s, and that lasted into the 1980s, caused considerable concern at that time and upon reflection even today. An understanding of the causes and correlates of the slowdown is important and fundamental to this volume for several reasons. First, it has historical economic significance, and for that alone it should remain in focus for those who study technological change and productivity growth. Second, the research at that time made important discoveries about the linkage between technological change and productivity growth, emphasizing the role of R&D activity. Third, the findings from that literature, which were reviewed completely in the 1987 monograph and selectively here, set the stage for much of the technology policy of OECD countries. Finally, fourth, as important as this productivity slowdown literature is to the evolution of the field, its limitations have brought about a provocative body of thought related to alternative sources of knowledge and their relationship to technological change – and that body of literature is discussed in detail in Chapter 8.