Brian Caplan tweeted that the GMU prof was wrong and the MIT prof was right. Is that your personal view? I am not impressed by the futuristic MIT gadgets, as they won’-t necessary correspond to people’-s needs. Hence, I don’-t buy their argument that the real problem is not being capable of “-keeping up”- with the pace of technology. We don’-t care about technology we don’-t need.
I don’t think Cowen failed to appreciate these points, but explaining the rate-of-change in productivity, mean income, asset returns, etc. in terms of a technological slowdown is still mainly a “story” that we are telling ourselves. We could also tell a story in terms of demographic structure and population growth. Both narratives are plausible, but difficult to show rigorously. Regardless of how we try to explain what has happened, it is uncontroversial that it is becoming harder to retire, and that fact has a large bearing on quality of life. It is difficult to quantify the gains from radio to television to color TV to Youtube on IPhone (where one might take pleasure in watching cigarette commercials from the ’60s and ’70s), but having to work or not seems a lot more straightforward, and stagnation on that front is more tangible. Of course, you will probably live longer in retirement, but can you afford that longevity? That is the more concrete issue here.