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Sources of the German Productivity Demise: Tracing the Effects of Industry-Level Information and Communication Technology Investment

  • Theo S. Eicher
  • Oliver Roehn

While the United States experienced two successive labor productivity surges in 1995 and 2000, Germany's productivity declined dramatically during the same period. We examine the sources of Germany's productivity demise using the ifo industry growth accounting database that provides detailed industry-level investment information. While much attention has focused on the reduction in German labor hours, our data show that information and communication technology (ICT) investment in Germany was deeply lacking in the mid-1990s as compared with the United States. The transition to the new economy mitigated the German productivity slowdown, but did not reverse it. After 2000, we find that a recovery in Non-ICT investment was offset by a widespread collapse in German total factor productivity. Over half of the German industries (accounting for almost 50 per cent of German output) experienced negative total factor productivity growth. This second major difference between the United States and German industry performance explains Germany's secular departure from the technological frontier. Copyright Verein für Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2007.

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Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 8 (2007)
Issue (Month): (05)
Pages: 211-236

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Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:8:y:2007:i::p:211-236
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  1. Ark, Bart van & Inklaar, Robert & McGuckin, Robert H., 2003. "ICT and productivity in Europe and the United States," CCSO Working Papers 200311, University of Groningen, CCSO Centre for Economic Research.
  2. Carol Corrado & John Haltiwanger & Dan Sichel, 2005. "Measuring Capital in the New Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number corr05-1, August.
  3. Schwerdt, Guido & Turunen, Jarkko, 2006. "Growth in euro area labour quality," Working Paper Series 0575, European Central Bank.
  4. van Ark, Bart & Inklaar, Robert, 2006. "Catching up or getting stuck? Europe's troubles to exploit ICT's productivity potential," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-79, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  5. Bart van Ark & Robert Inklaar & Robert H. McGuckin, 2003. "The Contribution of ICT-Producing and ICT-Using Industries to Productivity Growth: A Comparison of Canada, Europe and the United States," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 6, pages 56-63, Spring.
  6. Timmer, Marcel P. & Ypma, Gerard & Ark, Bart van der, 2003. "IT in the European Union: driving productivity divergence?," GGDC Research Memorandum 200363, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  7. Robert Inklaar & Mary O'Mahony & Marcel Timmer, 2005. "ICT AND EUROPE's PRODUCTIVITY PERFORMANCE: INDUSTRY-LEVEL GROWTH ACCOUNT COMPARISONS WITH THE UNITED STATES," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(4), pages 505-536, December.
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