Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?

Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?

By
Nicholas A. Bloom, Charles I. Jones, John Van Reenen, Michael Webb
American Economic Review. April
2020, Vol. 110, Issue 4, Pages 1104–1144

Long-run growth in many models is the product of two terms: the effective number of researchers and their research productivity. We present evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply. A good example is Moore’s Law. The number of researchers required today to achieve the famous doubling of computer chip density is more than 18 times larger than the number required in the early 1970s. More generally, everywhere we look we find that ideas, and the exponential growth they imply, are getting harder to find.