Information and Communication Technologies, Market Rigidities and Growth: Implications for EU Policies
Salvador Barrios & Jean-Claude Burgelman
EUR Number: 23027 EN
The renewed Lisbon strategy puts special emphasis on the potential role that Information and Communication Technologies can play in meeting the challenges of boosting growth, competitiveness and cohesion throughout the EU. There is also a general understanding among policy makers that investment of this kind and its related economic benefits can only materialize if labour, capital, product and service markets are flexible enough to facilitate ICT investment and the re-organisation of economic activities. This paper provides evidence of the influence of market rigidities on the propensity to invest in ICT and on the economic return of ICT investment in a number of EU countries, and in the US and Japan. We provide evidence that indicates that market rigidities deter ICT investment and lower the impact of ICT on GDP growth by considering a number of indicators reflecting barriers to business creation and the degree of market regulation in labour and capital markets. These results are invariant, even when other potential determinants of ICT investments and ICT contribution to GDP growth such as the degree of specialisation in ICT-producing industries, past ICT investment, business cycles conditions and a measure of trade openness are controlled for. The paper provides a number of policy implications, most notably, regarding the role played by structural reforms in promoting both ICT adoption and setting the best framework conditions for ICT impact on GDP growth. While the renewed EU Lisbon strategy of economic reforms is badly needed to increase EU growth potential, we show here that this strategy is also needed to promote technological change in the EU economy.