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Effects of Terms of Trade Gains and Tariff Changes on the Measurement of US Productivity Growth

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  • Robert C. Feenstra
  • Benjamin R. Mandel
  • Marshall B. Reinsdorf
  • Matthew J. Slaughter

Abstract

The acceleration in US productivity growth since 1995 is often attributed to declining prices for information technology (IT ) goods, and therefore enhanced productivity growth in that sector. We investigate an alternative explanation for these IT price movements: gains in the US terms of trade and tariff reductions, especially for IT products, which led to greater gains than shown by official indexes. We do not, however, investigate the indexes used to deflate the domestic absorption components of GDP, and if upward biases are present in those indexes that could offset some of the effects of mismeasured export and import indexes. (JEL C43, E23, F13, F14, J24)

Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Feenstra & Benjamin R. Mandel & Marshall B. Reinsdorf & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2013. "Effects of Terms of Trade Gains and Tariff Changes on the Measurement of US Productivity Growth," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 59-93, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:5:y:2013:i:1:p:59-93
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.1.59
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David M. Byrne & Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2013. "Is the Information Technology Revolution Over?," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 25, pages 20-36, Spring.
    2. Feng, Ling & Li, Zhiyuan & Swenson, Deborah L., 2017. "Trade policy uncertainty and exports: Evidence from China's WTO accession," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 20-36.
    3. Ville Kaitila, 2016. "GDP growth in Russia: different capital stock series and the terms of trade," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(2), pages 129-145, April.
    4. Catherine L. Mann, 2012. "Information Technology Intensity, Diffusion, and Job Creation," Working Papers 46, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
    5. Brainerd, Elizabeth & Menon, Nidhiya, 2014. "Seasonal effects of water quality: The hidden costs of the Green Revolution to infant and child health in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 49-64.
    6. David Byrne & Brian K. Kovak & Ryan Michaels, 2013. "Price and Quality Dispersion in an Offshoring Market: Evidence from Semiconductor Production Services," NBER Working Papers 19637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Gita Gopinath & Brent Neiman, 2014. "Trade Adjustment and Productivity in Large Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 793-831, March.
    8. Ariel Burstein & Javier Cravino, 2015. "Measured Aggregate Gains from International Trade," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 181-218, April.
    9. Llosa, Luis-Gonzalo, 2013. "How Do Terms of Trade Affect Productivity? The Role of Monopolistic Output Markets," Working Papers 2013-007, Banco Central de Reserva del Perú.
    10. Xiaobing, Huang & Xiaolian, Liu, 2015. "Exporting firm dynamics and productivity growth: Evidence from China," Economics Discussion Papers 2015-64, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    11. Thomas von Brasch, 2015. "On measuring the contribution from firm turnover to aggregate productivity growth. Selection on profitability and not productivity," Discussion Papers 819, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    12. repec:eee:rujoec:v:2:y:2016:i:3:p:279-301 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:bla:worlde:v:40:y:2017:i:11:p:2328-2353 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Susan N. Houseman & Christopher J. Kurz & Paul Lengermann & Benjamin R. Mandel, 2010. "Offshoring bias in U.S. manufacturing: implications for productivity and value added," International Finance Discussion Papers 1007, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    15. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2010. "Why Have Economic Reforms in Mexico Not Generated Growth?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 1005-1027, December.
    16. Idrisov, Georgiy & Ponomarev, Yuriy & Sinelnikov-Murylev, Sergei, 2015. "Terms of trade and economic development of modern Russia," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 3, pages 7-37.
    17. Susan Houseman & Christopher Kurz & Paul Lengermann & Benjamin Mandel, 2011. "Offshoring Bias in U.S. Manufacturing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 111-132, Spring.
    18. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert E. Lipsey & Lee G. Branstetter & C. Fritz Foley & James Harrigan & J. Bradford Jensen & Lori Kletzer & Catherine Mann & Peter K. Schott & Greg C. Wright, 2010. "Report on the State of Available Data for the Study of International Trade and Foreign Direct Investment," NBER Working Papers 16254, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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