WIDER Discussion Papers // World Institute for Development Economics (UNU-WIDER) 2002/67
The benefits from the New Economy should accrue as improvements in productivity and economic growth. But while the use of information and communication technology seems to have had a substantial impact on the performance of the United States economy, the evidence for other countries is much weaker. This study does not find any significant correlation between ICT investment and economic growth in the period 1985-99 for a sample of 42 countries for which ICT spending data are available. Even more surprisingly and in contrast with some previous studies, the relationship is not statistically significant for the subsamples of industrial or high-income countries either. There are at least three possible explanations for this apparent ‘productivity paradox’. The most obvious one is the fact that not many countries, other than the US, have yet invested much in ICT. The second reason is that even if they have done so, they may not have invested enough in complementary infrastructure, like education and skills, in order to reap the benefits from ICT investment. Technology by itself is not a solution to any development problem; it only provides an opportunity. The third and the most controversial explanation is that the neoclassical method applied in assessing the benefits may not capture the most essential aspects of the New Economy or the ICT revolution. The benefits may not lie in the supply side of the economy but instead in the demand side.
economic growth ICT information and communication technology New Economy productivity productivity paradox technological change