Is Our Economic Future Behind Us?

Joel Mokyr: “With the global economy yet to recover from the 2008 economic crisis, concern about the future – especially of the advanced economies – is intensifying. My Northwestern University colleague Robert J. Gordon captures the sentiment of many economists, arguing in his recent book The Rise and Fall of American Growth that the enormous productivity-enhancing innovations of the last century and a half cannot be equaled. If true, advanced economies should expect slow growth and stagnation in the coming years. But will the future really be so bleak?”

“Probably not… My optimism is based not on some generalized faith in the future, but on the way science (or ‘propositional knowledge’) and technology (‘prescriptive knowledge’) support each other. Just as scientific breakthroughs can facilitate technological innovation, technological advances enable scientific discovery, which drives more technological change. In other words, there is a positive feedback loop between scientific and technological progress.”

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