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With the US economy in a state of sluggish growth since the 2007–2009 recession, the prospects for future advances raise much speculation. In this revealing article, Professor Robert J. Gordon offers an informed assessment of the factors that create high growth in the economy. He argues that past technology innovations had a greater impact on productivity than more recent changes have had today. While Gordon does expect emerging technologies such as robotics to aid future growth, he is pessimistic that strong productivity results will return before 2040. getAbstract recommends this insightful perspective to business executives, economists, policy makers and investors.

About the Author

Robert J. Gordon is a professor of social sciences at Northwestern University.



US history shows that strong economic growth and improved living standards result from technological innovation. Yet progress occurs in spurts rather than in small orderly steps. Living standards rose broadly and radically during the second industrial revolution, from 1870 to 1970, as people harnessed inventions as diverse as electricity, the internal combustion engine, telephones and plastics. Production methods advanced from manual labor and crude machines to electric equipment in homes, factories, farms and offices.

Total factor productivity (TFP) is a measure of...

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