PRINCETON – In a provocative recent paper, Robert Gordon of Northwestern University concludes that the rate of technological progress has slowed sharply, and that the rise in standards of living (at least in the world’s rich countries) is thus set to decelerate. In the twentieth century, he says, per capita income in the United States doubled about every 25-30 years. But the next doubling will likely occur only over 100 years, a pace last seen in the nineteenth century.
Long-term growth considerations, while recognized as crucial, seem distant from the here and now of financial repair and restoration of confidence. So the commentary on Gordon’s paper has been largely dissociated from the policy discussions addressing the ongoing Great Recession.