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Computer Networks and U.S. Manufacturing Plant Productivity: New Evidence from the CNUS Data

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Author Info

  • B.K. Atrostic
  • Sang V. Nguyen

Abstract

How do computers affect productivity? Many recent studies argue that using information technology, particularly computers, is a significant source of U.S. productivity growth. The specific mechanism remains elusive. Detailed data on the use of computers and computer networks have been scarce. Plant-level data on the use of computer networks and electronic business processes in the manufacturing sector of the United States were collected for the first time in 1999. Using these data, we find strong links between labor productivity and the presence of computer networks. We find that average labor productivity is higher in plants with networks. Computer networks have a positive and significant effect on plant labor productivity after controlling for multiple factors of production and plant characteristics. Networks increase estimated labor productivity by roughly 5 percent, depending on model specification. Model specifications that account for endogenous computer networks also show a positive and significant relationship. Our work differs from others in several important aspects. First, ours is the first study that directly links the use of computer networks to labor productivity using plant-level data for the entire U.S. manufacturing sector. Second, we extend the existing model relating computers to productivity by including materials as an explicit factor input. Third, we test for possible endogeneity problems associated with the computer network variable.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 02-01.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:02-01

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Keywords: CES; economic; research; micro; data; microdata; chief; economist;

References

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  1. Nathalie Greenana & Jacques Mairesse, 2000. "Computers And Productivity In France: Some Evidence," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 275-315.
  2. Gordon, Robert J, 2000. "Does the 'New Economy' Measure up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2607, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Jacques Mairesse & Nathalie Greenan & Agnes Topiol-Bensaid, 2001. "Information Technology and Research and Development Impacts on Productivity and Skills: Looking for Correlations on French Firm Level Data," NBER Working Papers 8075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Dunne, Timothy & Foster, Lucia & Haltiwanger, John C. & Troske, Kenneth, 2002. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion in U.S. Manufacturing: The Role of Computer Investment," IZA Discussion Papers 563, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Robert H Mcguckin & Mary L Streitwieser & Mark E Doms, 1996. "The Effect Of Technology Use On Productivity Growth," Working Papers 96-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. Mark Doms & Eric J. Bartelsman, 2000. "Understanding Productivity: Lessons from Longitudinal Microdata," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 569-594, September.
  7. B.K. Atrostic & John Gates, 2001. "U.S. Productivity and Electronic Processes in Manufacturing," Working Papers 01-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. Paul Schreyer, 2000. "The Contribution of Information and Communication Technology to Output Growth: A Study of the G7 Countries," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2000/2, OECD Publishing.
  9. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995. "Production Functions: The Search for Identification," NBER Working Papers 5067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Alessandra Colecchia & Paul Schreyer, 2001. "ICT Investment and Economic Growth in the 1990s: Is the United States a Unique Case? A Comparative Study of Nine OECD Countries," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2001/7, OECD Publishing.
  11. William D. Nordhaus, 2002. "Productivity Growth and the New Economy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 211-265.
  12. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U. S. Economy," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1911, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Ronald S. Jarmin, 1999. "Evaluating the impact of manufacturing extension on productivity growth," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 99-119.
  14. Kevin M Stolarick, 1999. "Are Some Firms Better at IT? Differing Relationships between Productivity and IT Spending," Working Papers 99-13, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  15. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2002. "Information Technology and the U.S. Productivity Revival: What Do the Industry Data Say?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1559-1576, December.
  16. Barbara K Atrostic & John Gates & Ron Jarmin, 2000. "Measuring the Electronic Economy: Current Status and Next Steps," Working Papers 00-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  17. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 1-32, March.
  18. Kevin M Stolarick, 1999. "IT Spending and Firm Productivity: Additional Evidence from the Manufacturing Sector," Working Papers 99-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  19. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kazuyuki Motohashi, 2004. "Firm level analysis of information network use and productivity in Japan," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d03-14, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  2. Maliranta, Mika & Rouvinen, Petri, 2003. "Productivity Effects of ICT in Finnish Business," Discussion Papers 852, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  3. Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2002. "Digital Dispersion: An Industrial and Geographic Census of Commerical Internet Use," NBER Working Papers 9287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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