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Diagnosing the UK productivity slowdown: which sectors matter and why?

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  • Diane Coyle
  • Jen‐Chung Mei

Abstract

This paper explores the slowdown in labour productivity growth in the UK and other advanced economies by decomposing its growth into contributions from different sectors of the economy, looking at both within‐industry productivity growth and labour reallocation between sectors. We find that the within‐industry contribution is the main source of the slowdown. Comparing trends pre‐ and post‐2008, the aggregate productivity slowdown can be attributed largely to the manufacturing sector and the information and communication (ICT) sector. Disaggregating further, the UK productivity growth slowdown can be attributed mainly to transport equipment and pharmaceuticals within manufacturing, and computer software and telecommunications within ICT. Strikingly, these are advanced, high value‐added sectors considered to be strengths of the UK economy. Looking across other advanced economies, our results confirm that manufacturing and ICT sectors are the main drivers of the slowdown, to differing degrees. Part of the explanation for the slowdown in in these sectors may relate to the underlying question of how to construct deflators for a modern economy when technological and structural changes are leading to large relative price shifts. The structure and supply chains of the key slowdown sectors also merit further investigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Diane Coyle & Jen‐Chung Mei, 2023. "Diagnosing the UK productivity slowdown: which sectors matter and why?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 90(359), pages 813-850, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:90:y:2023:i:359:p:813-850
    DOI: 10.1111/ecca.12459
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Goodridge & Jonathan Haskel, 2023. "Accounting for the slowdown in UK innovation and productivity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 90(359), pages 780-812, July.
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    3. Anna Valero & Bart van Ark, 2023. "A new UK policy institution for growth and productivity – a blueprint," Insight Papers 027, The Productivity Institute.
    4. Diane Coyle & John McHale & Ioannis Bournakis & Jen-Chung Mei, 2023. "Recent Trends in Firm-Level Total Factor Productivity in the United Kingdom: New Measures, New Puzzles," Working Papers 036, The Productivity Institute.
    5. Coyle, Diane & Hampton, Lucy, 2024. "21st century progress in computing," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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