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Do‐it‐yourself Digital: the Production Boundary, the Productivity Puzzle and Economic Welfare

Diane Coyle ()

Economica, 2019, vol. 86, issue 344, 750-774

Abstract: Part of the debate about the ‘productivity puzzle’ concerns potential mismeasurement of GDP due to digital activities. This paper discusses some measurement issues arising from digitally‐enabled substitutions in activity across the conventional production boundary. Production boundary issues are not new, as conventionally defined GDP statistics account for the monetary cost but not the time cost of consumption and production. This means that changes in the way in which time is allocated between market and home production affect measured growth and productivity, as well as economic welfare. Just as technological innovation in domestic appliances led to a substitution from home production into market consumption in the second half of the 20th century, today's digital innovations are driving some reverse substitution out of the market into home production. Statistical agencies do not currently collect the data needed to measure the scale of the switch, but the available evidence suggests that it may be enough to make a contribution to understanding the current productivity puzzle.

Date: 2019
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