Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies and Long-term Economic Growth

This book examines the long term economic growth that has raised the West's material living standards to levels undreamed of by counterparts in any previous time or place. The authors argue that this growth has been driven by technological revolutions that have periodically transformed the West's economic, social and political landscape over the last 10,000 years and allowed the West to become, until recently, the world's only dominant technological force.

Unique in the diversity of the analytical techniques used, the book begins with a discussion of the causes and consequences of economic growth and technological change. The authors argue that long term economic growth is largely driven by pervasive technologies now known as General Purpose (GPTs). They establish an alternative to the standard growth models that use an aggregate production function and then introduce the concept of GPTs, complete with a study of how these technologies have transformed the West since the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution. Early modern science is given more importance than in most other treatments anf the 19th century demographic revolution is studied with a combination of formal models of population dynamics and historical analysis.

The authors argue that once sustained growth was established in the West, formal models can shed much light on its subsequent behaviour. They build non-conventional, dynamic, non-stationary equilibrium models of GPT-driven growth that incorporate a range of phenomena that their historical studies show to be important but which are excluded from other GPT models in the interests of analytical tractability. The book concludes with a study of the policy implications that follow from their unique approach.

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Dr. Richard G. Lipsey is currently a Professor Emeritus of Economics at Simon Fraser University. He received his B.A. from U.B.C. in 1951, M.A. from Toronto in 1953 and PhD from London School of Economics in 1957. He has held a chair in Economics at the London School of Economics and was chairman of the Department of Economics and dean of the Faculty of Social Science at the new University of Essex, England from 1964 to 1970. From 1970 to 1986, he was Sir Edward Peacock Professor of Economics, Queen's University. From 1983 to 1989, he was Senior Economic Advisor for the C.D. Howe Institute. From 1989 until 2002 he was a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research where he organised and participated in a large-scale, international research project on Economic Growth and Policy. He has held visiting professorships at the Universities of California at Berkeley, Colorado, Yale, UBC, Manchester, and City University (London). Dr. Kenneth I. Carlaw is currently Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. Dr. Carlaw received his B.A. (1992), M.A. (1994) and Ph.D. (2000) from Simon Fraser University, Canada. Dr. Carlaw has held a lecturer position at the University of Canterbury from 2000 to 2002. He was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in 2003. Dr. Carlaw has published over 25 articles on aspects of economic growth, technological change, productivity and policy. Dr. Clifford T. Bekar is Associate Professor of Economics, Lewis and Clark College.