The Atkinson Memorial Lecture is an annual distinguished lecture series established in 2018 in memory of Professor Sir Tony Atkinson, jointly by the Global Priorities Institute (GPI) and the Department of Economics. The aim is to encourage research among academic economists on topics related to global prioritisation - using evidence and reason to figure out the most effective ways to improve the world. This year, we are delighted to have Professor Charles I. Jones deliver the Atkinson Memorial Lecture. The Atkinson Memorial lecture is organised in conjunction with the Parfit Memorial Lecture.
The Past and Future of Economic Growth: A Semi-Endogenous Perspective
The nonrivalry of ideas gives rise to increasing returns, a fact celebrated in Paul Romer’s recent Nobel Prize. An implication is that the long-run rate of economic growth is the product of the degree of increasing returns and the growth rate of research effort; this is the essence of semi-endogenous growth theory. This paper interprets past and future growth from a semi-endogenous perspective. For 50+ years, U.S. growth has substantially exceeded its long-run rate because of rising educational attainment, declining misallocation, and rising (global) research intensity, implying that frontier growth could slow markedly in the future. Other forces push in the opposite direction. First is the prospect of “finding new Einsteins”: how many talented researchers have we missed historically because of the underdevelopment of China and India and because of barriers that discouraged women inventors? Second is the longer-term prospect that artificial intelligence could augment or even replace people as researchers. Throughout, the paper highlights many opportunities for further research.
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ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Charles I. Jones is the STANCO 25 Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Professor Jones has been honoured as a National Fellow of the Hoover Institution, a John M. Olin Foundation Faculty Fellow, and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow. He is noted for his research on long-run economic growth. In particular, he has examined theoretically and empirically the fundamental sources of growth in incomes over time and the reasons underlying the enormous differences in standards of living across countries.
- "Nonrivalry and the Economics of Data" (with Chris Tonetti), American Economic Review, September 2020, Vol. 110 (9), pp. 2819-2858.
- "Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?" (with Nick Bloom, John Van Reenen, and Michael Webb), American Economic Review, April 2020, Vol. 110 (4), pp. 1104-1144.
- "The Allocation of Talent and U.S. Economic Growth" (with Chang Hsieh, Erik Hurst, and Pete Klenow), Econometrica, September 2019, Vol. 87 (5), pp. 1439-1474.
- "Artificial Intelligence and Economic Growth" (with Philippe Aghion and Ben Jones) in Agrawal, Gans, and Goldfarb, The Economics of Artificial Intelligence: An Agenda, University of Chicago Press, 2019.
- "Beyond GDP? Welfare across Countries and Time" (with Pete Klenow), American Economic Review, September 2016, Vol. 106 (9), pp. 2426-2457.
- "Life and Growth" Journal of Political Economy, April 2016, Vol. 124 (2), pp. 539-578.
- "The New Kaldor Facts: Ideas, Institutions, Population, and Human Capital" (with Paul Romer) American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, January 2010, Vol. 2 (1), pp. 224-245.
- "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?" (with Robert E. Hall), Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 1999, Vol. 114, pp. 83-116.
- "R&D-Based Models of Economic Growth" Journal of Political Economy, August 1995, Vol. 103, pp. 759-784.