Learning by Doing: The Real Connection between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth
Yale University Press, April, 2015
Today’s great paradox is that we feel the impact of technology everywhere – in our cars, our phones, the supermarket, the doctor’s office – but not in our paychecks. In the past, technological advancements dramatically increased wages, but during the last three decades, the median wage has remained stagnant. Machines have taken over much of the work of humans, destroying old jobs while increasing profits for business owners. The threat of ever-widening economic inequality looms, but in Learning by Doing, James Bessen argues that it is not inevitable. Workers can benefit by acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to implement rapidly evolving technologies, however, this can take years, even decades. Technical knowledge is mostly unstandardized and difficult to acquire, learned through job experience rather than in the classroom. The right policies are necessary to provide strong incentives for learning on the job, but politically influential interests have moved policy in the wrong direction recently. Based on economic history as well as analysis of today’s labor markets, the book shows a path toward restoring broadly shared prosperity.
“A fascinating hypothesis—and book.”
—Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Harvard
“One of the most hopeful yet realistic books in years”
—Gavin Wright, Economic Historian, Stanford
“Enlightening and insightful book”
—Hal Varian, Chief Economist, Google
Economic historian James Bessen studies innovation and technology policy at Boston University School of Law. He formerly wrote one of the first desktop publishing programs and founded a software company.
Upcoming Events / Appearances
November 6, 1pm, Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement, 34 Concord, Cambridge MA
November 9, 19:00 GMT, Disruptive Innovation Festival, webinar
November 12, 12:00, Chicago-Kent BookIT, Room 370
November 17, 10am, American Enterprise Institute, Wash. DC, RSVP here
November 19, Univ. of Michigan, 63rd Annual Economic Outlook Conference
Stories & Photos
Meet some of the people in the book and read their stories in their own words.
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