The missing pandemic innovation boom

Among the trials and tribulations of the plague years, there was a silver lining. In late 2020, with the approval of covid-19 vaccines, and into 2021, as the jabs worked their magic, techno-optimism began to spread. If people could develop life-saving inoculations in months, why couldn’t the world move out of its low-growth, low-productivity slumber? Firms could embrace digitisation as never before; the shift to working from home could allow people, free of office gossip and draining commutes, to work more effectively; before long there would be vaccines for every disease imaginable. Governments promised to spend big on science; companies outlined juicy r&d plans.

It was quite a change of mood. In the years before the pandemic, the rich world’s growth rate had drastically slowed. In the 2010s American labour productivity—output per hour of work—grew half as quickly as in the decade before. Societies had become worse at finding new ideas, translating them into innovations and…

Continue Reading →

This article was written by and originally published on