The Sources of Economic Growth in OECD Countries

image of The Sources of Economic Growth in OECD Countries

Understand growth disparities between OECD countries over the past twenty years through identification and analysis of underlying factors.

Growth patterns through the 1990s and into this decade have turned received wisdom on its head. For most of the post-war period, OECD countries with relatively low GDP per capita grew faster than richer countries. Since the late 1990s, however, that pattern has broken down with the United States notably drawing further ahead of the field. This publication provides a comprehensive overview of growth drivers across the OECD and the extent to which disparities are attributable to factors like new technology and R&D, macroeconomic policy, education and training, labour market flexibility, product market competition, and barriers to business start-up and closure.

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Summary and Policy Conclusions

Strong economic growth in some OECD countries over the 1990s, most notably in the United States, led many commentators to speculate that a "new economy" had emerged, largely driven by the spread of information and communication technology (ICT). In particular, economic performance in the United States included a combination of strong output and productivity growth, together with falling unemployment and low inflation. These patterns were all the more surprising for a country already at the technology frontier in many industries, and had no similar counterpart in other affluent OECD economies. Indeed, over the 1990s, large continental European countries, and Japan, experienced slow economic growth and rising, or persistently high unemployment.

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