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Un examen approfondi du paradoxe de productivité

WASHINGTON, DC – Au cours de la dernière décennie, la croissance de la productivité a considérablement ralenti dans la plupart des grandes économies développées, alors que des progrès impressionnants ont été réalisés dans des domaines comme l'informatique, la téléphonie mobile et la robotique. Tous ces progrès auraient dû stimuler la productivité; pourtant, aux États-Unis, leader mondial dans l'innovation technologique, la croissance moyenne de la productivité du travail dans le secteur des entreprises entre 2004 et 2014 a été moins que la moitié de celle de la décennie précédente. Que se passe-t-il?

Une théorie qui a attiré beaucoup d’attention dernièrement prétend que ce qu’on a appelé le paradoxe de productivité n’existe en fait pas. Selon cet argument, la croissance de la productivité semble seulement être à la baisse, parce que les statistiques que nous utilisons pour la mesurer ne parviennent pas à capturer entièrement les gains récents, en particulier ceux provenant de l’amélioration des technologies d’information et de communication (TIC). Si les prix ne reflètent pas l'amélioration de la qualité des nouveaux produits, les indices de prix sont surestimés et la production réelle est sous-estimée.

En outre, les sceptiques font remarquer que les mesures standard de la productivité sont basées sur le PIB, qui, par définition, ne tient compte que de la production. Le surplus du consommateur – qui est en croissance rapide, parce que des services Internet comme le moteur de recherche de Google et Facebook génèrent un bien-être important pour les consommateurs, à un prix de marché proche de zéro – est ignoré.

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