Fifty Years of Economic Growth in Western Europe: No longer catching up but falling behind?

Nicholas Crafts

Published: June 2004

Productivity growth in virtually all west European countries exceeded that of the United States throughout the period 1950 to 1995. Since then American productivity performance has strengthened and that of the EU has weakened. The most important reason is contrasting experiences with Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The article argues that this may reflect a failure of European countries to update their ‘social capability’ to the requirements of a new technological epoch and points in particular to weaknesses in human capital formation and to excessive employment protection as obstacles to rapid realization of the productivity potential of ICT.

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