Department of Economics
Washington University in St. Louis
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|February 2018||Computerizing Industries and Routinizing Jobs: Explaining Trends in Aggregate Productivity|
with Sang Yoon (Tim) Lee, Yongseok Shin: w24357
Aggregate productivity growth in the U.S. has slowed down since the 2000s. We quantify the importance of differential productivity growth across occupations and across industries, and the rise of computers since the 1980s, for the productivity slowdown. Complementarity across occupations and industries in production shrinks the relative size of those with high productivity growth, reducing their contributions toward aggregate productivity growth, resulting in its slowdown. We find that such a force, especially the shrinkage of occupations with above-average productivity growth through “routinization,” was present since the 1980s. Through the end of the 1990s, this force was countervailed by the extraordinarily high productivity growth in the computer industry, of which output became an inc...