Caroline Freund, Alen Mulabdic, Michele Ruta, 28 October 2019

The conventional wisdom is that 3D printing will shorten supply chains and reduce world trade. This column examines the trade effects of the shift to 3D printing in the production of hearing aids. It shows that adopting the new technology in production increased trade by roughly 60% as production costs came down. An analysis of 35 other products that are increasingly produced using 3D printing also finds positive effects but suggests that product characteristics such as bulkiness can affect the relationship between 3D printing and trade. 

Jakob Molinder, Tobias Karlsson, Kerstin Enflo, 23 October 2019

History has shown that new technology can disrupt societies, and current developments in automation have raised anxious speculation on what might happen if stable middle-class jobs are taken over by machines. This column analyses the impact of technological change on labour markets and social protests, taking the case of the adoption of electricity in early 20th century Sweden. It finds that electrification did increase the incidence of local strikes, but that disputes were associated with workers demanding higher wages and better working conditions rather than attempting to block innovation.

Sotiris Blanas, Gino Gancia, Tim Lee, 10 October 2019

Since the early 1980s, technology has reduced the demand for low and medium-skill workers, the young, and women, especially in manufacturing industries. The column investigates which technologies have had the largest effect, and on which types of worker. It finds that robots and software raised the demand for high-skill workers, older workers, and men, especially in service industries. 

Prasanna Tambe, Xuan Ye, Peter Cappelli, 22 August 2019

When deciding whether to switch employers, technology workers care not only about wages, but also about other factors, such as technology, perks and the quality of co-workers. Using job board data from 2007, this column shows that high-tech workers also ‘pay’ for the opportunity to acquire training in a new technology. Tech workers require more money to leave their current employers when they are working with more interesting technologies. For older and more established technologies, this premium disappears. The effects are stronger for younger workers. 

Johannes Eugster, Giang Ho, Florence Jaumotte, Roberto Piazza, 12 June 2019

Technology diffusion to emerging markets helps share growth potential across countries and lift global living standards. Using a global patent citation dataset, this column estimates the magnitude and impact of international knowledge and technology diffusion, as well as the role that globalisation has played. In emerging markets, knowledge flows have increased innovation and productivity. Competition from emerging markets benefits global innovation.

Łukasz Rachel, 24 May 2019

How we spend our time is changing rapidly. This column argues that an important driver is leisure-enhancing innovation, aimed at capturing our time, attention, and data. Leisure-enhancing technologies can help account for both the rise in leisure hours and the decline in productivity observed across the industrialised world. Their nature carries important implications for the long-run viability of the platforms’ business models, for measurement of economic activity, and for welfare. 

Manzoor Dar, Alain De Janvry, Kyle Emerick, Erin Kelley, Elisabeth Sadoulet, 19 May 2019

Networks are important for transmitting knowledge among farmers, but it is not always easy or appropriate to identify the best farmers which whom to seed a new technology. The column shows that side-by-side demonstration plots for a new variety of rice are successful at inducing learning. This method makes it less important to identify the farmers best positioned to spread information and has the potential to target individuals who are not connected to influential farmers.

Sadao Nagaoka, 15 May 2019

Standard essential patents are patents that are needed in order to comply with a particular standard. Technologies protected by such patents are granted on the condition that rights holders commit to licensing the patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms. This column surveys three key issues that arise under these licensing agreements: hold-up, reverse hold-up, and ex-ante negotiation. The discussion highlights how patent award procedures affect the incentives for firms to invest in R&D. 

Janine Aron, John Muellbauer, 07 May 2019

Mobile money has transformed the landscape of financial inclusion in developing and emerging market countries, leapfrogging the provision of formal banking services. This column explains how mobile money potentially helps ameliorate several areas of market failure in developing economies, including saving, insurance, and the empowerment of women. It illustrates these effects using examples from a burgeoning empirical literature and concludes that the system-wide effects of mobile money may be even greater than current studies suggest.

Mónica Correa-López, Beatriz de Blas, 23 April 2019

Since the end of WWII, advanced economies have experienced long-lasting swings in economic activity. This column takes a look at the historical data and finds that, over the medium term, output and investment fluctuations among European countries have been even more volatile and persistent than in the US. It also reveals that, by diffusing embodied technology through trade inintermediates, large US firms appear to drive Europe's output over the medium term. 

David Autor, 05 April 2019

Do trade and technology harm jobs? David Autor of MIT argues that we shouldn't mix the two as their effects are very different. Autor was giving the Economic Journal keynote lecture at the RES conference 2014.

Debora Revoltella, 22 January 2019

Europe is at risk of falling behind its global competitors. In a period of radical technological transformation, European firms are investing too little, with a gap both in tangible and intangible investment compared to the US. This column calls for a ‘retooling’ of Europe’s economy in relation to skills, innovation finance, the business environment, infrastructure, and deepening the Single Market.

Jian Jia, Ginger Jin, Liad Wagman, 07 January 2019

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation was a landmark piece of legislation stipulating how businesses approach consumers’ privacy with regards to data. Using EU and US data, this column explores how the legislation impacted technology venture investment. The implementation of GDPR had an immediate, pronounced, and negative effect on investment. However, these results do not necessarily constitute a welfare loss, and the long-term effects of GDPR remain to be seen. 

Simeon Djankov, Federica Saliola, 23 November 2018

Over the last century, technology has created more jobs than it has displaced. This column presents an overview of ways in which technology and innovation are changing the nature of work, leading to demand for advanced cognitive skills and greater adaptability among workers. The rise of platform marketplaces is also changing the way people work and the terms on which they work, which requires a rethinking of social protection systems.

Zsofia Barany, Christian Siegel, 25 July 2018

Economists agree that structural transformation and job polarisation are both caused mainly by biased technological progress, but there is no consensus on the nature of these biases. The column uses US data to estimate the extent to which technological change is biased across sectors and across occupations. It finds that for improved labour market outcomes, policies targeting occupational choice for workers might be better than industrial policies to protect sectors of the economy.

Pascal Lamy, 06 June 2018

Sanjeev Gupta, Michael Keen, Alpa Shah, Geneviève Verdier, 07 March 2018

Digitalisation has vastly increased our ability to collect and exploit the information that governments use to implement macroeconomic policy. The column argues that the ability of governments to use the vast amounts of information held in the private sector on financial transactions are already making fiscal policy more efficient and effective. Problems of access to digital technology, cybersecurity risks, and the difficulty of organisational change in the public sector may slow the pace at which these opportunities are exploited.

Morgan Kelly, Cormac Ó Gráda, 27 January 2018

The consensus among economic (but not maritime) historians that maritime technology was more or less stagnant for 300 years until iron steamships appeared in the mid-19th century is largely based on indirect measures, such as changes in the cost of shipping freight or the length of voyages. This column instead looks directly at how the speed of ships in different winds improved over time. The speed of British ships rose by around half between 1750 and 1830 (albeit from a low base) thanks to innovations like the copper plating of hulls and the move from wooden to iron joints and bolts.

Jonathan Haskel, Stian Westlake, 31 May 2018

Many economists have suggested that slowing technical innovation is behind the secular stagnation and slowdown in total factor productivity growth that have plagued many advanced economies since the Global Crisis. This column, first published in January 2018, argues that the recent rise of the intangible economy could play an important role. An assessment of measurement trends and the properties of intangible investment across the globe suggests that total factor productivity growth will continue to be low until governments design the institutions an intangible economy needs, and until its commercial, legal, and ethical norms are worked out.

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