Advanced economies’ progress: Dismal and dazzling

Advanced economies in the 21st century are caught between two giant, competing truths: economic growth is slowing down, and science is flourishing.

Per-capita GDP growth is trending downward across the OECD (Figure 1). Among other explanations (rising inequality and debt levels, for example), economic theory variously attributes this trend to diminishing returns – from the one-time transition of women into the labour force (Bloom et al. 2003), from human capital improvements via higher education (Goldin and Katz 1998), or from the exploitation of natural capital (Costanza et al. 1997).


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