¿Un mundo post-crecimiento?

PRINCETON – En un reciente documento provocador, Robert Gordon, de la Northwestern University, concluye que la tasa de progreso tecnológico se ha desacelerado marcadamente y que, en consecuencia, el crecimiento de los estándares de vida (al menos en los países ricos del mundo) seguramente perderá ritmo. En el siglo XX, dice, el ingreso per capita en Estados Unidos se duplicó aproximadamente cada 25-30 años. Pero es probable que la próxima vez que se duplique sea en 100 años, un ritmo que se registró por última vez en el siglo XIX.

Las consideraciones del crecimiento a largo plazo, si bien se las ve como cruciales, parecen distantes del aquí y ahora de la restauración financiera y la recuperación de la confianza. De manera que el comentario en el documento de Gordon está en gran medida disociado de las deliberaciones sobre políticas para abordar la Gran Recesión en curso.

Sin embargo, una evaluación realista de las perspectivas de crecimiento es precisamente lo que se necesita hoy en día para diseñar políticas apropiadas y factibles. El punto de Gordon no es que el crecimiento se desacelerará en el futuro, sino más bien que el crecimiento de la productividad subyacente adoptó una trayectoria marcadamente más baja en el año 2000. Vivimos la mejor parte de la década subsiguiente con una sensación engañosa de prosperidad extendida y así se generó una burbuja financiera. Peor aún, tratamos al presente como si la burbuja que impulsó el crecimiento entre 2000 y 2007 fuera a regresar.

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