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Productivity and the Welfare of Nations

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  • Susanto Basu
  • Luigi Pascali
  • Fabio Schiantarelli
  • Luis Serven

Abstract

We show that the welfare of a country's infinitely-lived representative consumer is summarized, to a first order, by total factor productivity (TFP) and by the capital stock per capita. These variables suffice to calculate welfare changes within a country, as well as welfare differences across countries. The result holds regardless of the type of production technology and the degree of product market competition. It applies to open economies as well, if TFP is constructed using domestic absorption, instead of gross domestic product, as the measure of output. Welfare relevant TFP needs to be constructed with prices and quantities as perceived by consumers, not firms. Thus, factor shares need to be calculated using after-tax wages and rental rates, and will typically sum to less than one. These results are used to calculate welfare gaps and growth rates in a sample of advanced countries with high-quality data on output, hours worked, and capital. We also present evidence for a broader sample that includes both advanced and developing countries.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17971.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17971

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Cited by:
  1. Basu, Susanto & Pascali, Luigi & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 2013. "Productivity and the Welfare of Nations," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1027, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. repec:cge:warwcg:162 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Nicholas Oulton, 2012. "Hooray for GDP!," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 383, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Ezra Oberfield, 2012. "Online Appendix to "Productivity and Misallocation During a Crisis: Evidence from the Chilean Crisis of 1982"," Technical Appendices 11-215, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  5. Dollar, David & Kleineberg, Tatjana & Kraay, Aart, 2014. "Growth, inequality, and social welfare : cross-country evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6842, The World Bank.
  6. Hyytinen, Ari & Maliranta, Mika, 2013. "Firm lifecycles and evolution of industry productivity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 1080-1098.

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