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Has the rate of economic growth changed? Evidence and lessons for public policy

Matthew D. Shapiro

New Zealand's recent rate of economic growth has remained strong despite a worldwide recession. Policymakers, the press, and the public have nonetheless been concerned that New Zealand's economic performance has lagged along some important dimensions. This paper presents some new estimates of the rate of technological change in New Zealand and compares them to similar measures for the United States and elsewhere. New Zealand has not participated in the increased pace of technological progress seen elsewhere since the mid-1990s. Technological change creates sustainable increases in income and wages. Hence, it should be an important focus of policy discussions surrounding economic growth. The paper also addresses how public policy should take into account technological change, especially given uncertainty about future prospects for its growth and the difficulties of public policy in changing its growth.