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Are ideas getting harder to find?

Nicholas Bloom (), Charles Jones (), John van Reenen () and Michael Webb

LSE Research Online Documents on Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library

Abstract: In many growth models, economic growth arises from people creating ideas, and the long-run growth rate is the product of two terms: the effective number of researchers and their research productivity. We present a wide range of evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply. A good example is Moore’s Law. The number of researchers required today to achieve the famous doubling every two years of the density of computer chips is more than 18 times larger than the number required in the early 1970s. Across a broad range of case studies at various levels of (dis)aggregation, we find that ideas—and in particular the exponential growth they imply — are getting harder and harder to find. Exponential growth results from the large increases in research effort that offset its declining productivity

Keywords: economic growth; ideas; research effort; research productivity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: R14 J01 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gro and nep-ino
Date: 2017-09-01
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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/86588/ Open access version. (application/pdf)

Related works:
Working Paper: Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? (2017) Downloads
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