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Abstract:

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CEP Discussion Paper
Long Term Implications of the ICT Revolution: Applying the Lessons of Growth Theory and Growth Accounting
Nicholas Oulton November 2010
Paper No' CEPDP1027:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: E23; F43; O41; O47


Tags: potential output; productivity; ict; two-sector model; growth accounting; terms of trade

How big a boost to long run growth can countries expect from the ICT revolution? I use the results of growth accounting and the insights from a two-sector growth model to answer this question. The use of a two-sector rather than a one-sector model is required because of the very rapid rate at which the prices of ICT products have fallen in the past and are expected to fall in the future. According to the two-sector model, the main boost to growth comes from ICT use, not ICT production. Even a country which has zero ICT production can benefit via improving terms of trade. In the long run, the falling relative price of ICT products boosts the growth of GDP and consumption by inducing faster accumulation of ICT capital. I quantify this effect on the long run growth rate of 15 European and 4 non-European countries, using data from the EU KLEMS database. The ICT intensity of production (the ICT income share) is much lower in many European countries than it is in the United States or Sweden. Nevertheless the contribution to the long run growth of labour productivity stemming from even the current levels of ICT intensity is substantial: about half a percent per annum on average in the countries studied here. Eventually, the ICT revolution may diffuse more widely so ICT intensity may reach at least the same level as currently in the U.S. or Sweden, which would add a further 0.2 percentage points per annum to long run growth.