[OPE-L] Sraffa and the productivity paradox

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Mon Sep 19 2005 - 10:02:52 EDT

  The productivity paradox that I refer to is the observation
made by Solow, and Roach that computers do not seem to
have made a significant measurable contribution to productivity.

Foley in his review of Sraffa's work - (CJE 2003 -27) says
that for the Sraffian critique of capital theory to really bite
on the neo-classicals the Sraffians will have to find empirical
examples which really illustrate the weakness of neo-classical theory.

Doing a brief trawl around the literature on the productivity
paradox, this seems a particularly relevant area.

Here one encounters:

the confusions arising from aggregation effects of different
types of means of production - for example assuming only two
inputs - computers and non-computer capital in some analyses

ambiguities about what is meant by increased productivity if one
is going to measure this in money and not material units

the failure to discriminate between the use of technology
in the basic and non-basic sectors. Hence the concept of
productivity which originates in material insustrial production
is being applied in areas like banking to which it
may be meaningless.

Paul Cockshott
Dept Computing Science
University of Glasgow

0141 330 3125

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