Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?
Charles I. Jones
John Van Reenen
- American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
Long-run growth in many models is the product of two terms: the effective
number of researchers and their research productivity. We present
evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research
effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining
sharply. A good example is Moore’s Law. The number of researchers
required today to achieve the famous doubling of computer chip density
is more than 18 times larger than the number required in the early
1970s. More generally, everywhere we look we find that ideas — and
the exponential growth they imply — are getting harder to find.
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