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The Concept of Industry and How to Measure it: Origins, Limits and Perspectives. An Application to the Study of Industrial Changes


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  • David Flacher

    (CEPN, Université Paris-XIII)

  • Jacques Pelletan

    (IRI-CREA, Université Paris-Dauphine)

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    Are present categorisations suited to the analysis of industrial change? While the light shed by national statistics is undeniable, the construction of these categorisations does not make it possible to segment economic activity homogenously or to deduce from it an industrial framework on which to base analysis of recent developments. We first show that the historical bases for categorisations remain largely rooted in an historical reality, that of the industrial revolution, in which industry was particularly synonymous with technical progress and job creation. While profound technical and organisational changes have taken place over the last twenty and more years, the article underlines the importance of re-evaluating the industrial landscape. We suggest three approaches which correspond to three definitions and three fundamental questions for the economist. We empirically illustrate our approach, applying these definitions to the 1978-2003 period, and suggest avenues to explore in order to undertake further research in this area.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques in its journal Economie et Statistique.

    Volume (Year): 405-406 (2008)
    Issue (Month): (February)
    Pages: 13-46

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    Handle: RePEc:crs:ecosta:es405-406b

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    Related research

    Keywords: Economic Methodology; Industrial Structure; Manufacturing Sector; Industrialization and Desindustrialization;

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    1. Thomas A Abbott III & Stephen H Andrews, 1990. "The Classification of Manufacturing Industries: an Input-Based Clustering of Activity," Working Papers 90-7, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Nathalie Missègue & Chantal Cases, 2001. "Une forte segmentation des emplois dans les activités de services," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 344(1), pages 81-108.
    3. Clarke, Richard N, 1989. "SICs as Delineators of Economic Markets," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(1), pages 17-31, January.
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