Just what is this digital economy?

Dave Heatley

“The way to grow our already burgeoning digital economy is to find and support innovative local entrepreneurs” says Richard MacManus. But that raises two questions: what is the digital economy? And having decided that, what is the best way to grow it?  The Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers asked these questions of the two countries’ Productivity Commissions.

Growing the digital economy in Australia and New Zealand

A major message in our report is that the digital economy is the sum total of economic activity conducted or facilitated through digital technologies. In countries like Australia and New Zealand, this is virtually the entire economy. The tech sector represents at most 10 percent of economic production.

If the digital economy meant just the tech sector, then you might share MacManus’s conclusion that finding and supporting innovative local entrepreneurs is the way to achieve growth. But the two Commissions did not look at how to grow the tech sector. What we did look at was those things that are under the control of governments that might grow the digital economy, more widely defined, and at the impacts of these technologies on the economy and society...

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