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The Finance and Economics Discussion Series logo links to FEDS home page The Resurgence of Growth in the Late 1990s: Is Information Technology the Story?
Stephen D. Oliner and Daniel E. Sichel

Abstract: The performance of the U.S. economy over the past several years has been remarkable, including a rebound in labor productivity growth after nearly a quarter century of sluggish gains. To assess the role of information technology in the recent rebound, this paper re-examines the growth contribution of computers and related inputs with the same neoclassical framework that we have used in earlier work. Our results indicate that the contribution to productivity growth from the use of information technology -- including computer hardware, software, and communication equipment -- surged in the second half of the 1990s. In addition, technological advance in the production of computers appears to have contributed importantly to the speed-up in productivity growth. All in all, we estimate that the use of information technology and the production of computers accounted for about two-thirds of the 1 percentage point step-up in productivity growth between the first and second halves of the decade. Thus, to answer the question posed in the title of this paper, information technology largely is the story.

Keywords: Growth, productivity, computers, information technology, investment

Full paper (3960 KB PDF)

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Last update: May 17, 2000