April 1, 2000

ICT and the Dutch economy: an historical and international perspective

This working paper provides an examination of the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in the growth performance of the Netherlands in the period 1973-2001.

Moreover, it compares the recent Dutch ICT-related growth performance with some G7-countries, especially the US. In recent years, both GDP and labour productivity have grown at a surprisingly fast pace in the US. Productivity gains in ICT producing industries account for a sizeable part of this acceleration.

The size of the Dutch ICT producing industry is rather small compared to its counterpart in the US. The contributions to economic growth and to labour productivity growth, however, have been increasing rapidly over the period 1996-2001. Nevertheless, labour productivity growth performance of the Dutch ICT sector considerably lags that of the American ICT sector. The use of ICT as a capital input in the production process also benefits the Dutch economic growth. The amount of ICT investment considerably expanded in the last two decades, and outpaced investments in other types of capital goods. Yet, ICT capital assets have accounted for only a minor, slightly increasing, part of the overall labour productivity growth over time. This modest contribution is due to the small share of ICT assets in the total capital stock. Although the US seems to be out of reach at the moment, most indicators show that the use of ICT in the Netherlands compares rather favourably in a broader international setting. In spite of possible spill-over effects of ICT, labour productivity growth outside the ICT producing industries is still limping in the Netherlands.


Henry van der Wiel

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