Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation

The Economic Impact of ICT: Measurement, Evidence and Implications


An important challenge for OECD governments is how to seize greater benefits of information and communications technology (ICT) for economic growth and development. The rapid diffusion of the Internet, of mobile telephony and of broadband networks all demonstrate how pervasive this technology has become. But how precisely does ICT affect economic growth and the efficiency of firms? How well can these impacts be measured? And under which conditions do the impacts of ICT emerge? 

The Economic Impact of ICT: Measurement, Evidence and Implications addresses these questions and provides an overview of the impacts of ICT on economic performance, and the ways through which these impacts can be measured. The material contained in the book elaborates on that included in two OECD studies published in 2003, namely Seizing the Benefits of ICT in a Digital Economy and ICT and Economic Growth – Evidence from OECD Countries, Industries and Firms. The book is therefore primarily aimed at analysts, statisticians and researchers working on ICT, productivity and economic growth.

The bulk of the book is devoted to nine studies of OECD countries that were presented at an OECD workshop on ICT and Business Performance in December 2002. These studies are all based on detailed firm-level data and were prepared by researchers and statisticians across OECD countries. They use a broad range of approaches and all provide new insights in the impacts of ICT and the conditions under which ICT can improve performance. The three other main chapters of the book are based on available OECD data. They examine differences in ICT diffusion across OECD countries, the impacts of ICT investment, and the contribution of ICT-using and ICT-producing sectors to overall economic performance.

The report shows that ICT is having substantial impacts on economic performance and the success of individual firms, in particular when it is combined with investment in skills, organisational change and innovation. These impacts can be observed in firm-level studies for all OECD countries, but have not yet translated in better economic performance at the industry or economy-wide level in many OECD countries. The report points to some factors that may explain this gap between firm-level and aggregate performance, such as aggregation effects, time lags and measurement.

For further information, please contact: Dirk Pilat, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (tel. + 33 1 4524 8749).