Economic History of Technological Change

Authored by: B. Zorina Khan

Routledge Handbook of Modern Economic History

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  January  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415677042
eBook ISBN: 9780203075616
Adobe ISBN: 9781135121211


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Consumers gain insights into the social value of technological innovations every time a computer crashes or the power goes off. Economists likewise agree that technological change promotes productivity gains and overall economic growth. Theoretical models variously treat inventive activity and innovation as exogenous, evolutionary, induced by economic or scientific factors, or path dependent. Economic analysis is predominantly static, whereas technological change is inherently dynamic, so it is not surprising that economic theory can illuminate, but fail to explain, the sources of advances in technology. Economic historians possess a comparative advantage in the realm of empirical analyses of changes over time, which allows them to make valuable contributions to understanding the role of technology in economic development. Accordingly, the interaction between “standard” economics and history has become more frequent and apparent in recent research.

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