THREE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTIONS RATHER THAN CONTINUAL INNOVATION.

THREE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTIONS RATHER THAN CONTINUAL INNOVATION. Robert Gordon’s summary points out that economists have generally assumed that “economic growth is a continuous process that will persist forever.” The basis of that assumption is another assumption: that technological improvement is a continuous process that will persist forever. Gordon looks at the economic growth from 1750 to the present not in terms of an average rate of growth over the period, but in terms of three sets of innovations. He says that the first industrial revolution was based on the invention of steam engine and railroads and lasted from 1750 to 1830.The second lasted 30 years, from 1870 to 1900 and included a number of innovations, including inventions relating to “electricity, internal combustion engine, running water, indoor toilets, communications, entertainment, chemicals, petroleum.” The third is based on the computer; it began in 1960 and is still continuing. Kids, you will notice that this way of explaining economic growth is very different from looking at economic growth as a product of a process of continual innovation. If there have only been 3 big sets of influential ideas in the last 250 years, it’s more plausible to question whether there will ever be a fourth.

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One Response to THREE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTIONS RATHER THAN CONTINUAL INNOVATION.

  1. Pingback: HAS ECONOMIC GROWTH COME TO AN END? | Pater Familias

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