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Why are Americans More Productive than Canadians?

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  • Andrew Sharpe

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Abstract

Historically, per capita income in the United States has exceeded those in Canada and this difference has reflected higher labour productivity levels south of the 49th parallel. In this article, Andrew Sharpe of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards provides estimates of the size of the gap in aggregate labour productivity between the United States and Canada and discuss possible explanation of the gap. He points out that based on average weekly hours estimates from the U.S. household survey, total economy output per hour in Canada in 2002 was 89 per cent of the U.S. level, compared to 81 per cent using estimates from the establishment survey. Sharpe concludes that the Canada-U.S. aggregate labour productivity gap reflects Canada's lower capital intensity of production, an innovation gap manifested by lower R&D expenditure, a smaller and less dynamic high tech sector, less developed human capital at the top end of the labour market, and more limited economies of scale and scope.

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 6 (2003)
Issue (Month): (Spring)
Pages: 19-37

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Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:6:y:2003:2

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Related research

Keywords: Productivity; Canada; United States; Employment; Hours; Hours of Work; Capital; International Comparisons; Purchasing Power Parity; Labour Productivity Gap; Level Gap; Alternative Data Sources;

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References

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  1. W. Erwin Diewert, 2003. "Measuring Capital," NBER Working Papers 9526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeremy Smith, 2003. "International Productivity Comparisons: An Examination of Data Sources," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 6, pages 64-71, Spring.
  3. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1996. "The Productivity of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  5. Lars Osberg & Andrew Sharpe, 2010. "The Index of Economic Well-Being," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 53(4), pages 25-42, July.
  6. Martin Neil Baily & Robert M. Solow, 2001. "International Productivity Comparisons Built from the Firm Level," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 151-172, Summer.
  7. Osberg, Lars & Sharpe, Andrew, 2002. "An Index of Economic Well-Being for Selected OECD Countries," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 291-316, September.
  8. Jeffrey I. Bernstein & Richard G. Harris & Andrew Sharpe, 2002. "The Widening Canada-US Productivity Gap in Manufaturing," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 5, pages 3-22, Fall.
  9. Someshwar Rao & Jianmin Tang & Weimin Wang, 2002. "The Importance of Skills for Innovation and Productivity," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 4, pages 15-26, Spring.
  10. Jianmin Tang & Frank C. Lee, 2000. "Productivity Levels and International Competitiveness between Canadian and U.S. Industries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 176-179, May.
  11. Someshwar Rao & Ashfaq Ahmad & William Horsman & Phaedra Kaptein-Russell, 2001. "The Importance of Innovation for Productivity," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 2, pages 11-18, Spring.
  12. Andrew Sharpe, 2002. "Productivity Concepts, Trends And Prospects: An Overview," The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress, in: Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director & France St-Hilaire, Vice-President , Research & Keith Banting, Di (ed.), The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2002: Towards a Social Understanding of Productivity, volume 2 Centre for the Study of Living Standards & The Institutute for Research on Public Policy.
  13. Dachraoui, Kais & Harchaoui, Tarek, 2003. "A Frontier Approach to Canada-U.S. Multifactor Productivity Performance," Economic Analysis (EA) Research Paper Series 2003010e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  14. Tang, Jianmin & Baldwin, John R. & Jarmin , Ron S., 2002. "The Trend to Smaller Producers in Manufacturing: A Canada/U.S. Comparison," Economic Analysis (EA) Research Paper Series 2002003e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien & Heisz, Andrew, 2007. "Understanding Regional Differences in Work Hours," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2007293e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  2. Jean-Francois Arsenault & Andrew Sharpe, 2008. "An Analysis of the Causes of Weak Labour Productivity Growth in Canada since 2000," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 16, pages 14-39, Spring.
  3. Andrew Sharpe, 2004. "Ten Productivity Puzzles Facing Researchers," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 9, pages 15-24, Fall.
  4. Jeremy Smith, 2004. "Assessing Aggregate Labour Productivity Trends in Canada and the United States: Total Economy versus Business Sector Perspectives," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 8, pages 47-58, Spring.
  5. Jeremy Smith, 2004. "Aggregate Labour Productivity Growth in Canada and the United States: Definitions, Trends and Measurement Issues," CSLS Research Reports 2004-04, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  6. Tanguay, Marc & Wong, Fanny & Baldwin, John R. & Maynard, Jean-Pierre & Yan, Beiling, 2005. "Comparaison des niveaux de productivite au Canada et aux Etats-Unis : etude de certains aspects de la mesure," Serie de documents de recherche sur l'analyse economique (AE) 2005028f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.
  7. Someshwar Rao & Jianmin Tang & Weimin Wang, 2003. "Canada's Recent Productivity Record and Capital Accumulation," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 7, pages 24-38, Fall.
  8. Centre for the Study of Living Standards, 2005. "What Explains the Canada-US ICT Investment Intensity Gap?," CSLS Research Reports 2005-06, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

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