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Catching up or getting stuck? Europe's troubles to exploit ICT's productivity potential

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  • van Ark, Bart
  • Inklaar, Robert

    (Groningen University)

Abstract

In this paper we extend our previous analysis of the comparative productivity performance of Europe and the U.S. to 2004, thereby covering the latest full business cycle. Our main finding is that the slower contribution of ICT to productivity growth in the EU compared to the U.S. has persisted into the early part of the 21st century. The growth differential even increased since 2000, as the U.S. shows strong labour productivity advances in market services. This may be related to a more productive use of ICT in the U.S.. However, at industry level we find no support for significant TFP (total factor productivity) spillovers from ICT investment, neither in the U.S. nor in European countries. In the 1980s we even find that ICT investment and TFP growth are negatively related, with at best normal returns in the 1970s and 1990s. We speculate that this U-shaped pattern is driven by ?hard savings? from ICT investment that first lead to earning normal returns, followed by a period of experimentation during which ICT and TFP growth are negatively related. Ultimately, ?soft savings? lead to productivity gains from ICT in line with the marginal cost of ICT. We argue that the realization of productivity effects from soft savings is highly dependent on the competitive process that stimulates complementary innovations and weeds out inefficient users of ICT technology. Europe risks getting stuck in an environment where the productivity gains from soft savings from ICT remain unrealized.

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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-79.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:rugggd:gd-79

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Cited by:
  1. Bruno Caprettini, 2008. "Finance and the Diffusion of Digital Technologies," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 98(6), pages 79-122, November-.
  2. Ester Gomes da Silva, 2011. "Portugal and Spain: catching up and falling behind. A comparative analysis of productivity trends and their causes, 1980-2007," FEP Working Papers 409, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  3. Antipa, P., 2008. "Productivity decomposition and sectoral dynamics," Quarterly selection of articles - Bulletin de la Banque de France, Banque de France, issue 11, pages 51-64, Spring.
  4. Kevin Stiroh & Matthew Botsch, 2007. "Information Technology and Productivity Growth in the 2000s," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 8, pages 255-280, 05.
  5. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2007. "Explaining a Productive Decade," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 81-152.
  6. Wilhelm Kohler, 2006. "The “Lisbon Goal” of the EU: Rhetoric or Substance?," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 85-113, June.
  7. Robert Inklaar & Marcel P. Timmer & Bart van Ark, 2006. "Mind the gap! International comparisons of productivity in services and goods production," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d06-175, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  8. Pamfili Antipa & Marie-Elisabeth de la Serve, 2010. "International Comparisons of Industry-based Productivity Levels in the Financial and Business Service Sectors," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 19, pages 66-81, Spring.
  9. Theo S. Eicher & Oliver Roehn, 2007. "Sources of the German Productivity Demise: Tracing the Effects of Industry-Level Information and Communication Technology Investment," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 8, pages 211-236, 05.
  10. Rafael Fernández & Enrique Palazuelos, 2009. "Labor productivity: a comparative analysis of the European Union and United States, for the period 1994-2007," Working Papers wp208, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  11. Robert J. Gordon & Ian Dew-Becker, 2005. "Why did Europe’s productivity catch-up sputter out? a tale of tigers and tortoises," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  12. Mirko Draca & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Productivity and ICT: A Review of the Evidence," CEP Discussion Papers dp0749, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  13. Florentino Felgueroso & Sergi Jiménez Martín, 2009. "The "New Growth Model". How and with Whom?," Working Papers 2009-39, FEDEA.
  14. Theo S. Eicher & Thomas Strobel, 2008. "Germany’s Continued Productivity Slump: An Industry Analysis," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 58, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  15. Francesco Venturini & Ana Rincon-Aznar & Dr Michela Vecchi, 2013. "ICT as a general purpose technology: spillovers, absorptive capacity and productivity performance," NIESR Discussion Papers 11717, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
  16. Antipa, P. & Cette, G. & Frey, L. & Lecat, R. & Vigna, O., 2008. "Recent trends in productivity: structural acceleration in the euro area and deceleration in the United States?," Quarterly selection of articles - Bulletin de la Banque de France, Banque de France, issue 11, pages 33-50, Spring.
  17. Theo Eicher & Oliver Röhn, 2007. "Sources of the German Productivity Demise – Tracing the Effects of Industry-Level ICT Investment," CESifo Working Paper Series 1896, CESifo Group Munich.

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