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Why has productivity growth declined? Productivity and public investment

  • Alicia H. Munnell

The decline in United States productivity has been widely identified as one of the major economic problems facing the nation. This concern is understandable; productivity growth is the major determinant of the future standard of living. Economists have gone to great lengths to try to identify the reasons for the slowdown, and David Aschauer recently introduced the notion that the stock of public infrastructure, as well as the stock of private capital, may be a key to explaining changes in output from the private sector. ; This study builds upon Aschauer’s insight and explores whether changes in the amount of public capital, combined with the growth of private capital and labor, can explain most of the slowdown. The author concludes that the main causes of the productivity slowdown could be behind us, as long as public infrastructure receives badly needed attention.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its journal New England Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (1990)
Issue (Month): Jan ()
Pages: 3-22

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbne:y:1990:i:jan:p:3-22
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  1. George L. Perry, 1971. "Labor Force Structure, Potential Output, and Productivity," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 2(3), pages 533-578.
  2. 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.
  3. James P. Smith & Finis Welch, 1978. "The Overeducated American? A Review Article," UCLA Economics Working Papers 147, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Martin Neil Baily, 1981. "Productivity and the Services of Capital and Labor," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 1-66.
  5. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
  6. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, December.
  7. J. R. Norsworthy & Michael J. Harper & Kent Kunze, 1979. "The Slowdown in Productivity Growth: Analysis of Some Contributing factors," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(2), pages 387-422.
  8. Edward A. Hudson & Dale W. Jorgenson, 1974. "U.S. Energy Policy and Economic Growth, 1975-2000," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 5(2), pages 461-514, Autumn.
  9. Clark, Peter K, 1978. "Capital Formation and the Recent Productivity Slowdown," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(3), pages 965-75, June.
  10. Griliches, Zvi, 1988. "Productivity Puzzles and R&D: Another Nonexplanation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 9-21, Fall.
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