Technological Innovation and Economic Growth: A Brief Report on the Evidence

29 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2019

See all articles by James Broughel

James Broughel

Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)

Adam D. Thierer

R Street Institute

Date Written: March 4, 2019


Technological innovation is a fundamental driver of economic growth and human progress. Yet some critics want to deny the vast benefits that innovation has bestowed and continues to bestow on mankind. To inform policy discussions and address the technology critics’ concerns, this paper summarizes relevant literature documenting the impact of technological innovation on economic growth and, more broadly, on living standards and human well-being. The historical record is unambiguous regarding how ongoing innovation has improved the way we live; however, the short-term disruptive aspects of technological change are real and deserve attention as well. The paper concludes with an extended discussion about the relevance of these findings for shaping cultural attitudes toward technology and the role that public policy can play in fostering innovation, growth, and ongoing improvements in the quality of life of citizens.

Keywords: technological innovation, economic growth, permissionless innovation, regulation, risk-taking, entrepreneurship, total factor productivity

JEL Classification: K2, O3, O4

Suggested Citation

Broughel, James and Thierer, Adam D., Technological Innovation and Economic Growth: A Brief Report on the Evidence (March 4, 2019). Mercatus Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

James Broughel (Contact Author)

Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) ( email )

Adam D. Thierer

R Street Institute ( email )

1050 17th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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