La destruction créatrice à l’œuvre

OXFORD – Au cours de l’histoire, le progrès technologique a engendré d’immenses richesses, mais également de grands bouleversements. La fabrication d’acier aux États-Unis a ainsi connu des transformations majeures dans les années 60, lorsque les grandes aciéries ont dû fermer leurs portes pour se voir remplacées par des usines de plus petite échelle, détruisant au passage la base économique de villes comme Pittsburgh en Pennsylvanie, et Youngstown, en Ohio. Les mini aciéries ont toutefois grandement accru la productivité et créé de nouveaux métiers ailleurs.

L’histoire du secteur de l’acier aux États-Unis illustre un enseignement important de ce que l’économiste Joseph Schumpeter appelait la « destruction créatrice » : la croissance économique à long terme dépend de beaucoup plus qu’un simple accroissement de la production des usines existantes ; elle implique également des changements structurels de l’emploi.

Nous pouvons observer le même phénomène dans la révolution actuelle du secteur des technologies de l’information et des communications (TIC), qui influe sur la plupart des secteurs du monde moderne du travail, même ceux qui ne sont pas directement liés à la programmation informatique ou à la conception de logiciels. Les technologies informatiques ont créé de nouvelles entreprises prospères (et même des secteurs entiers) tout en réduisant la demande pour la main-d’œuvre industrielle qui a poussé de vieilles cités ouvrières dans leur trajectoire descendante.

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