IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/fan/spespe/vhtml10.3280-spe2018-001003.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Productivity: a history of its measurement

Author

Listed:
  • Malcolm Abbott

Abstract

Productivity has long been an important concept in economics. Despite this long history, the full quantification of productivity dates back largely to work undertaken by economists in the middle part of the twentieth century. The purpose of the paper, therefore, is to describe the origins of the concept in general and in particular the efforts to develop the means to quantify it. To a significant degree, the economic issues that have arisen, as well as general developments in economic theory have influenced the development of productivity quantification efforts.

Suggested Citation

  • Malcolm Abbott, 2018. "Productivity: a history of its measurement," HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT AND POLICY, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2018(1), pages 57-80.
  • Handle: RePEc:fan:spespe:v:html10.3280/spe2018-001003
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.francoangeli.it/riviste/Scheda_Rivista.aspx?IDArticolo=61627&Tipo=ArticoloPDF
    Download Restriction: Single articles can be downloaded buying download credits, for info: http://www.francoangeli.it/riviste/inglese_download_credit.asp
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. John W. Kendrick, 1956. "Productivity Trends: Capital and Labor," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend56-1.
    3. Jorgenson, Dale W, 1988. "Productivity and Postwar U.S. Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 23-41, Fall.
    4. D. W. Jorgenson & Z. Griliches, 1967. "The Explanation of Productivity Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 249-283.
    5. E L Lynk, 1993. "Privatisation, joint production and the comparative efficiencies of private and public ownership: the UK water industry case," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 14(2), pages 98-116, May.
    6. Harold Barger & Hans H. Landsberg, 1942. "Employment in Agriculture," NBER Chapters, in: American Agriculture, 1899-1939: A Study of Output, Employment and Productivity, pages 228-246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Robert J. Gordon, 2016. "Perspectives on The Rise and Fall of American Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 72-76, May.
    8. Anonymous, 1956. "Organization for European Economic Cooperation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 328-331, May.
    9. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1.
    10. Robert M. Solow, 2007. "The last 50 years in growth theory and the next 10," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 3-14, Spring.
    11. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1961. "Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn61-1.
    12. T. K. Rymes, 1983. "More On The Measurement Of Total Factor Productivity," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 29(3), pages 297-316, September.
    13. Anonymous, 1956. "Organization for European Economic Cooperation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 507-508, August.
    14. Berger, Allen N. & Humphrey, David B., 1997. "Efficiency of financial institutions: International survey and directions for future research," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 175-212, April.
    15. Crain, W Mark & Zardkoohi, Asghar, 1978. "A Test of the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm: Water Utilities in the United States," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 395-408, October.
    16. George J. Stigler, 1947. "Trends in Output and Employment," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stig47-1.
    17. Parkan, Celik, 1987. "Measuring the efficiency of service operations: An application to bank branches," Engineering Costs and Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1-4), pages 237-242, July.
    18. Fare, Rolf & Grosskopf, Shawna & Yaisawarng, Suthathip & Li, Sung Ko & Wang, Zhaoping, 1990. "Productivity growth in Illinois electric utilities," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 383-398, December.
    19. George J. Stigler, 1947. "Trends in Output," NBER Chapters, in: Trends in Output and Employment, pages 6-31, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    21. Griliches, Zvi, 1988. "Productivity Puzzles and R&D: Another Nonexplanation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 9-21, Fall.
    22. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 71-102, October.
    23. Abbott, Malcolm & Cohen, Bruce, 2009. "Productivity and efficiency in the water industry," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3-4), pages 233-244, September.
    24. John M. Gowdy & Jack L. Miller, 1990. "Harrod–Robinson–Read Measures of Primary Input Productivity: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Data," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 591-604, July.
    25. Raymond W. Goldsmith, 1962. "The National Wealth of the United States in the Postwar Period," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold62-1.
    26. John Kendrick, 1956. "Productivity Trends: Capital and Labor," NBER Chapters, in: Productivity Trends: Capital and Labor, pages -3-23, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    27. Wolff, Edward N, 1979. "The Rate of Surplus Value, the Organic Composition, and the General Rate of Profit in the U.S. Economy, 1947-67," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 329-341, June.
    28. Nordhaus, William D., 1982. "Economic policy in the face of declining productivity growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 131-157.
    29. Byrnes, Patricia & Grosskopf, Shawna & Hayes, Kathy, 1986. "Efficiency and Ownership: Further Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(2), pages 337-341, May.
    30. George J. Stigler, 1961. "Economic Problems in Measuring Changes in Productivity," NBER Chapters, in: Output, Input, and Productivity Measurement, pages 47-78, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    31. Douglas W. Caves & Laurits R. Christensen & Joseph A. Swanson, 1980. "Productivity in U.S. Railroads, 1951-1974," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 166-181, Spring.
    32. Tupper, Henrique Cesar & Resende, Marcelo, 2004. "Efficiency and regulatory issues in the Brazilian water and sewage sector: an empirical study," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 29-40, March.
    33. Ford, J L & Warford, J J, 1969. "Cost Functions for the Water Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 53-63, November.
    34. Barbera, Anthony J & McConnell, Virginia D, 1986. "Effects of Pollution Control on Industry Productivity: A Factor Demand Approach," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 161-172, December.
    35. Thomas G. Cowing & V. Kerry Smith, 1978. "The Estimation of a Production Technology: A Survey of Econometric Analyses of Steam-Electric Generation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 54(2), pages 156-186.
    36. Anonymous, 1956. "Organization for European Economic Cooperation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 658-659, November.
    37. L. M. Read, 1968. "The Measure of Total Factor Productivity Appropriate to Wage-Price Guidelines," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 1(2), pages 349-358, May.
    38. George J. Stigler, 1947. "Trends in Employment," NBER Chapters, in: Trends in Output and Employment, pages 32-41, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. Hugh Goodacre, 2010. "Technological progress and economic analysis from Petty to Smith," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 1149-1168.
    40. Rymes, T K, 1972. "The Measurment of Capital and Total Factor Productivity in the Context of the Cambridge Theory of Capital," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 18(1), pages 79-108, March.
    41. John W. Kendrick, 1973. "Postwar Productivity Trends in the United States, 1948–1969," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend73-1.
    42. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2002. "Information Technology and the U.S. Productivity Revival: What Do the Industry Data Say?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1559-1576, December.
    43. Raimund Bleischwitz, 2001. "Rethinking Productivity: Why has Productivity Focussed on Labour Instead of Natural Resources?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 19(1), pages 23-36, May.
    44. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States since 1870," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abra56-1.
    45. Timothy J. Coelli & D.S. Prasada Rao & Christopher J. O’Donnell & George E. Battese, 2005. "An Introduction to Efficiency and Productivity Analysis," Springer Books, Springer, edition 0, number 978-0-387-25895-9, September.
    46. Harold Barger & Hans H. Landsberg, 1942. "American Agriculture, 1899-1939: A Study of Output, Employment and Productivity," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number barg42-1.
    47. John W. Kendrick, 1976. "The Formation and Stocks of Total Capital," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend76-1.
    48. R. D. Banker & A. Charnes & W. W. Cooper, 1984. "Some Models for Estimating Technical and Scale Inefficiencies in Data Envelopment Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(9), pages 1078-1092, September.
    49. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States since 1870," NBER Chapters, in: Resource and Output Trends in the United States since 1870, pages 1-23, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    50. W. W. Cooper, 2002. "Abraham Charnes and W. W. Cooper (et al.): A Brief History of a Long Collaboration in Developing Industrial Uses of Linear Programming," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 50(1), pages 35-41, February.
    51. Zvi Griliches, 1963. "The Sources of Measured Productivity Growth: United States Agriculture, 1940-60," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 71, pages 331-331.
    52. Arrigo Opocher, 2010. "Measuring productivity increase by long-run prices: the early analyses of G.R. Porter and R. Giffen," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 1271-1291.
    53. John W. Kendrick, 1973. "National Productivity Trends," NBER Chapters, in: Postwar Productivity Trends in the United States, 1948–1969, pages 35-63, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    54. Fare, Rolf & Grosskopf, Shawna & Logan, James, 1983. "The relative efficiency of Illinois electric utilities," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 349-367, December.
    55. Abbott, Malcolm, 2005. "Determining Levels of Productivity and Efficiency in the Electricity Industry," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 18(9), pages 62-72, November.
    56. Bookbinder, James H. & Qu, Wendy W., 1993. "Comparing the Performance of Major American Railroads," Journal of the Transportation Research Forum, Transportation Research Forum, vol. 33(1).
    57. William Peterson, 1979. "Total Factor Productivity in the UK: A Disaggregated Analysis," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: K. D. Patterson & Kerry Schott (ed.), The Measurement of Capital, chapter 8, pages 212-225, Palgrave Macmillan.
    58. Peter Groenewegen, 2010. "Marshall's treatment of technological change in Industry and Trade," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 1253-1269.
    59. Dale W. Jorgenson & Mun S. Ho & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2005. "Productivity, Volume 3: Information Technology and the American Growth Resurgence," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 3, number 0262101114.
    60. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. My Tran & Malcolm Abbott, 2020. "The Productivity and Efficiency of Vietnamese Securities Firms, 2009 to 2017," Applied Economics and Finance, Redfame publishing, vol. 7(4), pages 101-111, July.
    2. Isham, Amy & Mair, Simon & Jackson, Tim, 2021. "Worker wellbeing and productivity in advanced economies: Re-examining the link," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    3. Mair, Simon & Druckman, Angela & Jackson, Tim, 2020. "A tale of two utopias: Work in a post-growth world," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 173(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. G Cameron, 1996. "Innovation and Economic Growth," CEP Discussion Papers dp0277, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Chad Turner & Robert Tamura & Sean Mulholland, 2013. "How important are human capital, physical capital and total factor productivity for determining state economic growth in the United States, 1840–2000?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 319-371, December.
    3. Charles R. Hulten, 2000. "Total Factor Productivity: A Short Biography," NBER Working Papers 7471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Laurits R. Christensen & Dianne Cummings & Dale Jorgenson, 1980. "Economic Growth, 1947–73: An International Comparison," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Measurement and Analysis, pages 595-698, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nicholas Crafts & Pieter Woltjer, 2021. "Growth Accounting In Economic History: Findings, Lessons And New Directions," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(3), pages 670-696, July.
    6. Milenko Popovic, 2006. "Capital Augmenting And Labor Augmenting Approach In Measuring Contribution Of Human Capital And Education To Economic Growth," Montenegrin Journal of Economics, Economic Laboratory for Transition Research (ELIT), vol. 2(4), pages 71-108.
    7. Leandro Prados de la Escosura & Tamás Vonyó & Ilya B. Voskoboynikov, 2021. "Accounting For Growth In History," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(3), pages 655-669, July.
    8. Ahmed, Elsadig Musa, 2012. "Are the FDI inflow spillover effects on Malaysia's economic growth input driven?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 1498-1504.
    9. Gonzales-Rocha, Erick & Mendez-Guerra, Carlos, 2018. "Increasing productivity dispersion: Evidence from light manufacturing in Brazil," MPRA Paper 88478, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Rahim KIA LASHAKI & Elsadig Musa AHMED, 2017. "FDI Inflow Spillover Effect Implications On The Asia Pacific Productivity Growth Through The Export Channel," Revista Galega de Economía, University of Santiago de Compostela. Faculty of Economics and Business., vol. 26(3), pages 57-72.
    11. Elsadig Musa Ahmed, 2021. "Modelling Information and Communications Technology Cyber Security Externalities Spillover Effects on Sustainable Economic Growth," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 12(1), pages 412-430, March.
    12. M.Rosaria Alfano & A. Laura Baraldi, 2008. "The design of electoral rules and their impact on economic growth: the Italian case," Working Papers 3_2008, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    13. Ayres, Robert U, 2001. "The minimum complexity of endogenous growth models:," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 26(9), pages 817-838.
    14. Abbott, Malcolm & Cohen, Bruce, 2009. "Productivity and efficiency in the water industry," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3-4), pages 233-244, September.
    15. Harabi, Najib, 1994. "Technischer Fortschritt in der Schweiz: Empirische Ergebnisse aus industrieökonomischer Sicht [Technischer Fortschritt in der Schweiz:Empirische Ergebnisse aus industrieökonomischer Sicht]," MPRA Paper 6725, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Andrea Guerrini & Giulia Romano & Bettina Campedelli, 2013. "Economies of Scale, Scope, and Density in the Italian Water Sector: A Two-Stage Data Envelopment Analysis Approach," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 27(13), pages 4559-4578, October.
    17. Robert W. Fogel, 2008. "The Impact of the Asian Miracle on the Theory of Economic Growth," NBER Chapters, in: Understanding Long-Run Economic Growth: Geography, Institutions, and the Knowledge Economy, pages 311-354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Ernst R. Berndt & Melvyn A. Fuss, 1982. "Productivity Measurement Using Capital Asset Valuation to Adjust for Variations in Utilization," NBER Working Papers 0895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Jens J. Krüger, 2020. "Long‐run productivity trends: A global update with a global index," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(4), pages 1393-1412, November.
    20. Zvi Griliches, 1996. "The Discovery of the Residual: A Historical Note," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1324-1330, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B10 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - General
    • B20 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - General
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fan:spespe:v:html10.3280/spe2018-001003. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.francoangeli.it/riviste/sommario.asp?IDRivista=121 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Stefania Rosato (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.francoangeli.it/riviste/sommario.asp?IDRivista=121 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.