“Capitalism, Technology and a Green Global Golden Age: The Role of History in Helping to Shape the Future” in Mazzucato and Jacobs eds
Table of Contents:
1. Growth without technology or sustainability without growth?
2. Technological revolutions and economic development
2.1 The history of technological revolutions
2.2 A regular pattern of diffusion
2.3 Why we are now in the equivalent of the 1930s and 40s
3. ICT and the green direction
3.1 A very broad definition of 'green growth'
3.2 A shift in consumer demand
4. ‘Green growth’, development, jobs and inequality
4.1 The quality and profile of domestic and global demand
4.2 New sources of employment growth
4.3 Pendular shifts in income distribution
5. A radical reshaping of the policy framework
5.1 A mental paradigm shift
5.2 Policy-making in the Deployment Period
5.3 A clear socio-political choice
The increased awareness of the role of technology and innovation in the economy has not yet found a clear expression in orthodox economic theory – or in the growth strategies being applied across most of the advanced world. There are currently widely divergent opinions on the likely impact of information technologies on growth and employment. While the optimists claim that these technologies, guided by the market, will eventually bring growth, the naysayers counter with predictions of high unemployment and low growth. At the same time, a significant proportion of the environmental movement has been calling for zero growth, ‘de-growth’ or similar, essentially blaming technology for climate change and other environmental and social ills.
In this chapter, I shall argue that what all of these divergent views on technology and growth share is the absence of a proper historical understanding of innovation: of its nature, of the interactions it generates in the economy, and of the regularity in the technological upheavals from which innovation has sprung since the first Industrial Revolution. Although it is difficult to find an economist today who will not accept that innovation is a key driver of economic growth, it remains almost impossible for them to express its impact adequately in orthodox models. Increases in labour productivity through the change in proportions of labour and capital do reflect process innovations, but the impact of radical product innovations can neither be expressed nor predicted. Such truly new capital goods and infrastructures as (historically) steamships, railways and computers, which cost less and less at the same time as their influence on growth and society becomes more and more powerful, are probably the most dynamic inducers of growth. The specific nature of these technologies is not easily measurable, and there are hardly any comparable statistics of such “game-changers” across the past two centuries, so they are routinely ignored. Yet this oversight is a waste of one of the richest sources of knowledge about how growth comes about and how jobs are created and destroyed.
'...the book fills an important gap in the literature on business cycles and innovations.
I most strongly commend it to all those attempting to understand the past and future
evolution of technology and the economy.'
Christopher Freeman, Emeritus Professor, SPRU,
University of Sussex, UK
'...Carlota Perez shows us that historically technological revolutions arrive with remarkable regularity,
and that economies react to them in predictable phases. Her argument provides much needed perspective not
just on history, but on our own times. And especially on our own information revolution.'
W. Brian Arthur, Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico
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