It’s Simple: To Compete in the Global Economy, Solve Fiscal Problems, and Raise Living Standards, We Need More Productivity

Speaking at Les Rencontres Economiques d’Aix-en-Provence, Rob Atkinson argued we need to accelerate productivity growth to raise standards of living. He explained that sluggish productivity is a particular problem for France, which was gaining ground on the United states from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s but has been falling further behind ever since. Giving up is not an option, Atkinson said, nor is giving in to “robo-phobia”; automation never has led to a world without jobs and never will. But while productivity growth is essential, many neoclassical economists think there is little government can do about it. Atkinson argued they are wrong: Governments can drive productivity by supporting innovation, supporting investment in infrastructure, and supporting private-sector investment, among other steps.