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McKinsey Global Institute: The Impact of the Internet on Economic Growth and Prosperity

Authors: James Manyika, and Charles Roxburgh
October 2011

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James Manyika and Charles Roxburgh discuss the Internet's potential to fuel economic growth, even as governments work to address the security and privacy risks it brings.

The Internet is changing the way we work, socialize, create and share information, and organize the flow of people, ideas and things around the globe. Yet the magnitude of this transformation is still underappreciated. The Internet accounted for 21 percent of the GDP growth in mature economies over the past 5 years. In that time, we went from a few thousand students accessing Facebook to more than 800 million users around the world, including many leading firms, who regularly update their pages and share content. While large enterprises and national economies have reaped major benefits from this technological revolution, individual consumers are small, upstart entrepreneurs have been some of the greatest beneficiaries from the Internet's empowering influence.

And yet we are still in the early stages of the transformations the Internet will unleash and the opportunities it will foster. Many more technological and enabling capabilities such as payment platforms are likely to emerge, while the ability to connect many more people and things and engaged them more deeply will continue to expand exponentially.

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