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Unit labour costs, productivity and international competitiveness

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  • Ark, Bart van
  • Stuivenwold, Edwin
  • Ypma, Gerard

    (Groningen University)

Abstract

This paper provides international comparisons of relative levels of unit labour costs (ULC) for several OECD countries relative to the United States. The estimates are based on the Total Economy Database and the 60-Industry Database of the Groningen Growth and Development Centre (GGDC), and are also included in the Key Indicators of the Labour Market of the International Labour Office (ILO). The paper discusses the concept of relative ULC measures in comparison to other measures of competitiveness. It presents the main results for manufacturing and total economy measures of ULC, and makes two digressions, firstly by also presenting results for some major manufacturing sectors for a few large European countries and the U.S. and, secondly, by showing some comparable results for developing countries. An important observation from this paper is that relative productivity levels tend to move more or less in tandem with relative labour cost levels so that unit labour cost levels are closer between countries than labour cost levels per se. However, unit labour cost levels are certainly not identical between countries, as there are important deviations due to short term movements in relative prices (related to fluctuation in the nominal exchange rate) and differences in industrial structure. Whereas some of the differences cancel out at the aggregate level, differences in industry and product composition are quite important at a more detailed level.

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File URL: http://irs.ub.rug.nl/ppn/288062051
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen in its series GGDC Research Memorandum with number 200580.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:rugggd:200580

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Cited by:
  1. Charles-Henri Dimaria & Chiara Peroni, 2012. "Unit labor cost and productivity recovery under non neutral technical change," Working Papers halshs-00826351, HAL.
  2. Mitra, Devashish & Ranjan, Priya, 2008. "Temporary shocks and offshoring: The role of external economies and firm heterogeneity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 76-84, August.
  3. Ghizdeanu, Ion & Tudorescu, Veronica, 2007. "Unit Labor Cost In Romania," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 4(1), pages 57-64, March.
  4. Brunner, Hans-Peter & Cali, Massimiliano, 2006. "The dynamics of manufacturing competitiveness in South Asia: An analysis through export data," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 557-582, October.
  5. Charles-Henri Dimaria & Chiara Peronni, 2012. "A new unit labour cost changes decomposition Four pillars of cost competitiveness recovery," Working Papers halshs-00826324, HAL.
  6. Kang, Lili & Peng, Fei, 2012. "Cost Competitiveness Comparisons and Convergence in China," MPRA Paper 42449, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Sebastian Nielen & Alexander Schiersch, 2011. "Temporary Agency Work and Firm Competitiveness: Evidence from German Manufacturing Firms," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1135, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Gabor Bekes & Balazs Murakozy & Zsuzsa Munkacsi & Gabor Oblath, 2013. "Unit Values, Unit Labor Costs and Trade Performance in Four Central European Countries," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1329, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  9. Martina Novotná & Tomáš Volek, 2013. "The Development of Real Unit Labour Costs in the Context of Cyclical Fluctuations in the Economy," Acta Universitatis Bohemiae Meridionalis, University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice, vol. 16(1), pages 101-109.

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