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What Have Two Decades of British Economic Reform Delivered in Terms of Productivity Growth?


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  • David Card


  • Richard B. Freeman


The UK economy has undergone significant market reforms over the last two decades. A key question for productivity researchers is the impact of these reforms on productivity growth. In this article, Richard B. Freeman of the London School of Economics, Harvard University and the NBER and David Card of the University of California at Berkeley and the NBER examine trends in productivity growth in Britain and other major developed countries and estimate the impact of British economic reforms on British performance. Freeman and Card find that developments in the UK economy cannot be readily explained by standard macro-economic changes in labour or capital. They note that economic reforms were more important in the UK than in other countries and that the UK after 1979 arrested the nearly century-long trend in economic decline of the UK relative to its historic competitors, France and Germany. They conclude that reforms in the area of union-management relations, privatization, profit and share ownership, and self-employment increased UK productivity growth 0.35 per cent per year over the 1979-1999 period, accounting for one quarter of the pick-up in productivity between the 1960-79 and 1979-1999 periods.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its journal International Productivity Monitor.

Volume (Year): 5 (2002)
Issue (Month): (Fall)
Pages: 41-52

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Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:5:y:2002:3

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Keywords: Britain; United Kingdom; Germany; France; Growth; Living Standards; Market Reforms; Policy Reforms; Policy; Reforms; Living Standards; Labour Quality; Capital Intensity; Capital; Thatcher; Pro-Market; Competitiveness; Relative; Acceleration; Growth Acceleration; Average Income;

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  1. Feinstein, Charles, 1999. "Structural Change in the Developed Countries during the Twentieth Century," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(4), pages 35-55, Winter.
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  1. Taxes & growth
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-07-10 12:56:52
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Cited by:
  1. Tanguay, Marc & Baldwin, John R. & Wong, Fanny & Maynard, Jean-Pierre & Yan, Beiling, 2005. "A Comparison of Canadian and U.S. Productivity Levels: An Exploration of Measurement Issues," Economic Analysis (EA) Research Paper Series 2005028e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  2. Andrew Sharpe, 2006. "Lessons for Canada from International Productivity Experience," CSLS Research Reports 2006-02, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.


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