The Transition to a New Economy after the Second Industrial Revolution

55 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2001 Last revised: 26 Jun 2012

See all articles by Andrew Atkeson

Andrew Atkeson

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Patrick J. Kehoe

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis - Research Department; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2001

Abstract

During the Second Industrial Revolution, 1860-1900, many new technologies, including electricity, were invented. These inventions launched a transition to a new economy, a period of about 70 years of ongoing, rapid technical change. After this revolution began, however, several decades passed before measured productivity growth increased. This delay is paradoxical from the point of view of the standard growth model. Historians hypothesize that this delay was due to the slow diffusion of new technologies among manufacturing plants together with the ongoing learning in plants after the new technologies had been adopted. The slow diffusion is thought to be due to manufacturers' reluctance to abandon their accumulated expertise with old technologies, which were embodied in the design of existing plants. Motivated by these hypotheses, we build a quantitative model of technology diffusion which we use to study this transition to a new economy. We show that it implies both slow diffusion and a delay in growth similar to that in the data.

Suggested Citation

Atkeson, Andrew G. and Kehoe, Patrick J., The Transition to a New Economy after the Second Industrial Revolution (December 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8676. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=294725

Andrew G. Atkeson (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 951477
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Patrick J. Kehoe

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis - Research Department ( email )

90 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55480
United States
612-204-5525 (Phone)
612-204-5515 (Fax)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics ( email )

271 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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