Selected Economic Papers
The Cournot Centre series
Edited by Jean-Philippe Touffut
Chapter 9: An overview of sustainable forms of growth: the economic institutions of a European model
Jean-Philippe Touffut Europe, Japan, the United States – and then Europe again? During the latter half of the twentieth century each of the main poles of economic development seemed at one point as if it was about to become the principal reference for economic growth. For example, the 1990s were characterized by the spectacular success of the US economy, in contrast with the sluggishness displayed by its continental European rivals. The United States’ long period of expansion was supposed to go hand in hand with the emergence of a new regime of growth, one that was based (disproportionately) on the production and utilization of information technology tools. The impact of technical change raised important puzzles about the nature of economic growth, these being centred on productivity increase. In the mid-1990s, indeed, productivity in US business sectors grew at a rate close to that of the pre-1973 period. The causes of the rebound are still widely debated, although part of it is clearly due to exceptional productivity growth in the information and technology sectors. The present text does not attempt to sort out productivity disputes. Information technologies may actually have been relatively unimportant as a source of the post-1995 productivity revival. What really matters is the transformation of economic institutions.1 The latter play a crucial role in the types of transformations that may provide Europe with the wherewithal to benefit from information technology capital deepening. Analysing the drivers behind US expansion in the 1990s is one starting point for understanding the three...
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