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La croissance de la productivité est-elle en train de perdre sa pertinence ?

LONDRES – Comme le prix Nobel d'économie Robert Solow l’a fait remarquer en 1987, les ordinateurs sont « partout sauf dans les statistiques de productivité ». Depuis lors, ce qu’on appelle le paradoxe de la productivité est devenu de plus en plus frappant. L'automatisation a éliminé de nombreux emplois. Les robots et l'intelligence artificielle semblent maintenant promettre (ou menacer) un changement encore plus radical. Cependant, la croissance de la productivité a ralenti dans les économies avancées; en Grande-Bretagne, le travail n’est pas plus productif aujourd'hui qu'il ne l'était en 2007.

Certains économistes estiment que c’est le manque d’investissement des entreprises, la faible pertinence des compétences, les infrastructures désuètes ou la réglementation excessive qui entravent la croissance potentielle. D'autres notent de grandes disparités de productivité entre les grands pays industriels historiques et les suivants. D'autres encore se demandent si la technologie de l'information est vraiment si puissante et particulière.

Mais l'explication pourrait être encore plus profonde. À mesure que nous devenons plus riches, la productivité mesurée pourrait ralentir inévitablement et le PIB par habitant mesuré pourrait être de moins en moins significatif  des tendances du bien-être humain.

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