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Regulation, productivity and growth: OECD evidence

  • Giuseppe Nicoletti
  • Stefano Scarpetta

Liberalization and privatization have made the regulatory environment more market-friendly throughout the OECD. However using a large new dataset on product market regulation, we show that regulatory policies in OECD nations have become more dissimilar in relative terms, even as all nations have liberalized. This seemingly contradictory finding is explained by different starting points and different reform speeds. Our data also show that this divergence in the regulatory settings lines up with the divergent growth performance of OECD nations, in particular the poor performance of large Continental economies relative to that of the US. The data, which tracks various types of product market regulation in manufacturing and service industries for 18 OECD economies over the past two decades, allows us to explore this link in detail. We find that productivity growth is boosted by reforms that promote private corporate governance and competition (where these are viable). Moreover, our detailed findings suggest how product market regulation and productivity growth are linked. In manufacturing, the productivity gains from liberalization are greater the further a given country is from the technology leader. This indicates that entry-limiting regulation may hinder the adoption of existing technologies, possibly by reducing competitive pressures, technology spillovers, or the entry of new high-tech firms. These results offer an interpretation of poor Continental performance. Strict product market regulations - and lack of regulatory reforms - appear to underlie the meagre productivity performance of some European countries, especially in those industries where Europe has accumulated a technology gap (e.g. industries producing or using information and communication technologies). Copyright (c) CEPR, CES, MSH, 2003..

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Article provided by CEPR & CES & MSH in its journal Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 18 (2003)
Issue (Month): 36 (04)
Pages: 9-72

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecpoli:v:18:y:2003:i:36:p:9-72
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