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Comparing Productivity in the Netherlands, France, UK and US, ca. 1910:A new PPP benchmark and its implications for changing economic leadership

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Author Info

  • Woltjer, P.
  • Smits, Jan-Pieter
  • Frankema, Ewout

    (Groningen University)

Abstract

This paper presents a new benchmark of fisher weighted sector PPPs for agriculture, mining and five manufacturing branches in the US, UK, France and the Netherlands around 1910. The PPPs are constructed according to an industry-of-origin approach in order to assess comparative levels of labour productivity at a sector level. The estimates are subsequently used to build up a comparison of total labour productivity and GDP per capita. Our main findings are that the relative levels of labour productivity and per capita GDP in the Western European countries have been overestimated in the literature so far. A backward projection of our productivity estimates into the nineteenth century sheds new light on the timing of the take-over in productivity and income leadership between the Netherlands, UK and US. The US-UK take-over occurred between 1879 and 1899 in terms of GDP per capita, but we show that in terms of aggregate labour productivity the US was already world leader around 1850. The Dutch economy seems to have lost its economic leadership earlier than hitherto has been assumed.

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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 GD-113.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:rugggd:gd-113

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References

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  1. Broadberry, Stephen, 2003. "Relative Per Capita Income Levels in the United Kingdom and the United States since 1870: Reconciling Time-Series Projections and Direct-Benchmark Estimates," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(03), pages 852-863, September.
  2. Broadberry, Stephen N., 1998. "How Did the United States and Germany Overtake Britian? A Sectoral Analysis of Comparative Productivity Levels, 1870–1990," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 375-407, June.
  3. Smits, J.P., 2000. "The determinants of productivity growth in Dutch manufacturing, 1815 1913," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 223-246, August.
  4. Broadberry, Stephen N. & Irwin, Douglas A., 2006. "Labor productivity in the United States and the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 257-279, April.
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  6. Ward, Marianne & Devereux, John, 2004. "Relative U.K./U.S. Output Reconsidered: A Reply to Professor Broadberry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(03), pages 879-891, September.
  7. Fremdling, Rainer & Jong, Herman de & Timmer, Marcel P., 2007. "Censuses compared. A New Benchmark for British and German Manufacturing 1935/1936," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-90, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  8. Jong, H. de & Woltjer, P., 2009. "A Comparison of Real Output and Productivity for British and American Manufacturing in 1935," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-108, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  9. Fremdling, Rainer & De Jong, Herman & Timmer, Marcel P., 2007. "British and German Manufacturing Productivity Compared: A New Benchmark for 1935/36 Based on Double Deflated Value Added," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(02), pages 350-378, June.
  10. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1.
  11. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2000. "International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820-1990: An Alternative Data Set," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-41, January.
  12. Kyoji Fukao & Debin Ma & Tangjun Yuan, 2006. "Real GDP in Pre-War East Asia: A 1934-36 Benchmark Purchasing Power Parity Comparison with the U.S," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-132, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  13. Robert J. Gordon, 2004. "Two Centuries of Economic Growth: Europe Chasing the American Frontier," NBER Working Papers 10662, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Alexander J. Field, 2003. "The Most Technologically Progressive Decade of the Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1399-1413, September.
  15. Broadberry,Steve N., 1997. "The Productivity Race," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521584401.
  16. Alexander J. Field, 2007. "The origins of US total factor productivity growth in the golden age," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 1(1), pages 63-90, April.
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Cited by:
  1. C Knick Harley, 2013. "British and European Industrialization," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _111, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

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