Public Choice

, Volume 89, Issue 1–2, pp 113–130

Innovations, externalities and the problem of economic progress

  • Ulrich Witt

DOI: 10.1007/BF00114282

Cite this article as:
Witt, U. Public Choice (1996) 89: 113. doi:10.1007/BF00114282


In modern industrial societies innovativeness is seen as a source of economic growth and welfare increases. Following this assessment economic research presently focusses almost exclusively on the question of how to elicit innovations. Yet innovative economic activities have always also meant losses, sometimes even hardship, to some members of society, and incalculable risks. The present paper tries to develop a more balanced picture by acknowledging these less pleasant implications. Whether, and under what conditions, the permissive regime which modern societies have adopted towards innovations can be justified is discussed within the framework of a contractarian approach.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Witt
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institute for Research into Economic SystemsJenaGermany

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