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A Note on Oil and Gas Production from Shale and Long-Run U.S. Economic Growth

Arora, Vipin (2014): A Note on Oil and Gas Production from Shale and Long-Run U.S. Economic Growth.

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Abstract

The short-term economic benefits of oil and gas production from shale for the U.S. economy have been widely discussed, but the long-term effects remain unclear. These long-run impacts likely depend upon the degree to which such oil and gas production can impact growth in capital per worker or technological progress throughout the economy. Oil or gas production from shale can lead to economic growth through economy-wide increases in capital per worker directly through investment in the oil and gas extraction sector and along the supply chain. Alternatively, the availability of low cost natural gas in large quantities may lead to replacement or additions to capital stock outside of oil and gas extraction and related industries.

Oil and gas production can lead to economy-wide technology gains directly through the application of technologies used in extraction and related activities in other sectors. There is much greater upside and uncertainty, however, surrounding if such production can lead to technological growth in other sectors indirectly. Are there currently important and productive technologies not being used or applied that become plausible because of lower-cost natural gas? Will there be transformative technologies developed for use with lower-cost natural gas that currently do not exist? And might each of these individually lead to other technologies that currently do not exist?

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