Technological Innovation And The Great Depression
In this unique volume, Rick Szostak takes an innovative approach toward analyzing the Great Depression of the 1930s. Most of the literature focuses on the movement in aggregate variables, but Szostak provides evidence primarily at the sectoral level, being careful to show that this argument is consistent with aggregate data. Combining a fresh theoretical viewpoint and industry-level analysis, Szostak contends that an abundance of process technology made it possible for industry to produce the existing range of products with a much smaller labor input, while a shortage of new product technology severely limited the introduction of new products. Pinpointing how the timing of the Second Industrial Revolution affected the evolution of the workplace and how the industrial research laboratories that emerged in the United States in the twentieth century initially emphasized process over product innovation, he explains why this conjunction of technological forces caused both consumption and investment to fall so precipitously in early 1929. In addition to exploring the technological and employment experience of specific sectors, Szostak looks at trends in income distribution and population and other factors that created the ultimate economic depression.