The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition
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The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition

Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma

Social economics is a dynamic and growing field that emphasizes the key roles social values play in the economy and economic life. This second edition of the Elgar Companion to Social Economics revises all chapters from the first edition, and adds important new chapters to reflect the expansion and development of social economics. The expert contributions explain a wide range of recent developments across different subject areas and topics in the field, mapping out possible directions of future social economic research. Social economics treats the economy and economics as embedded in a web of social and ethical relationships. It considers economics and ethics as essentially connected, and adds values such as justice, fairness, dignity, well-being, freedom, and equality to the standard emphasis on efficiency. This book will be a leading resource and guide to social economics for many years to come.
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Chapter 37: Technology and long waves in economic growth

Alfred Kleinknecht and Gerben van der Velde


Many people have accepted the existence of the classical business cycle of seven to ten years in length, sometimes also referred to as the ‘Juglar cycle’. The idea, however, that there may be a (regular) long-term variation in the speed of economic growth of some 50 years, with 20–25 ‘good’ years being followed by 20–25 ‘bad’ years (the so-called Kondratieff wave) has always remained controversial among economists and economic historians. It is tempting to give some credit to the concept of Kondratieff waves, as it could explain why the dark period between 1929 and World War II has been followed by an unprecedented ‘Golden Age’ of capitalism, lasting up to the early 1970s. After the mid-1970s, there was a growing perception that the good times were passé, but after the mid-1990s, with an upward shift in US productivity growth, we suddenly had euphoria about a ‘new economy’. It is surprising to note that many adherents of the ‘new economy’ did not seem to be aware that many of their observations fitted nicely into the old-fashioned concept of the Kondratieff wave. Ignorance of history can be misleading. Once the hype was over (after the crash of the NASDAQ index in spring of 2000), many believed that the ‘new economy’ story was fake. From the viewpoint of a possible long wave in economic life, however, one tends towards a more positive evaluation.

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