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Productivity and digitalisation in Europe: Paving the road to faster growth

This paper reviews the latest evidence on the contribution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – and the digital economy more broadly – on economic growth for Europe and the United States since the late 1990s until most recently. The paper provides estimates on the contributions from ICT to growth from three channels affecting the long-term growth performance of entire economies: 1) a productivity effect through the ICT-producing sector, 2) an investment effect from ICT-using industries through capital deepening, and 3) a productivity effect from an efficiency rise through the use of ICT which goes beyond the direct capital deepening effect. The study finds that the slowing of the total factor productivity growth rate in Europe reflects a failure to effectively adopt new technologies and innovation. It is also argued that the lack of rapid accumulation of intangible capital (such as information assets, innovative property, and economic competencies) constraints Europe’s ability to accelerate and facilitate the innovation effects from digital technology. Finally, we discuss some policy implication emerging from our work, in particular the need to complete the Single Market in Europe to improve the productivity effects from the digital economy.