The pandemic could give way to an era of rapid productivity growth | The Economist

The pandemic could give way to an era of rapid productivity growth

Businesses have adopted new processes and technologies-and there are signs that they may pay off

THE PROSPECTS for a productivity resurgence may seem grim. After all, the past decade has featured plenty of technological fatalism: in 2013 Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist, mused of the technological advances of the moment that “we wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters”. Robert Gordon of Northwestern University has echoed this sentiment, speculating that humanity might never again invent something so transformative as the flush toilet. Throughout the decade, data largely supported the views of the pessimists.

What is more, some studies of past pandemics and analyses of the economic effects of this one suggest that covid-19 might make the productivity performance worse. According to research by the World Bank, countries struck by pandemic outbreaks in the 21st century (not including covid) experienced a marked decline in labour productivity of 9% after three years relative to unaffected countries.

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