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Polarization of the worldwide distribution of productivity

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  • Oleg Badunenko

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  • Daniel Henderson

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  • R. Russell

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Abstract

We employ data envelopment analysis (DEA) methods to construct the world production frontier, which is in turn used to decompose (labor) productivity growth into components attributable to technological change (shift of the production frontier), efficiency change (movements toward or away from the frontier), physical capital deepening, and human capital accumulation over the 1965–2007 period. Using this decomposition, we provide new findings on the causes of polarization (the emergence of bimodality) and divergence (increased variance) of the world productivity distribution. First, unlike earlier studies, we find that efficiency change is the unique driver of the emergence of a second (higher) mode. Second, while earlier studies attributed the overall change in the distribution exclusively to physical capital accumulation, we find that technological change and human capital accumulation are also significant factors explaining this change in the distribution (most notably the emergence of a long right-hand tail). Robustness exercises indicate that these revisions of earlier findings are attributable to the addition of (more recent) years and a much greater number of countries included in our sample. We also check to see whether our results are changed by a correction for the downward bias in the DEA construction of the frontier, concluding that these corrections affect none of our major findings (essentially because the level correction roughly washes out in changes.) Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Oleg Badunenko & Daniel Henderson & R. Russell, 2013. "Polarization of the worldwide distribution of productivity," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 153-171, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jproda:v:40:y:2013:i:2:p:153-171
    DOI: 10.1007/s11123-012-0328-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alicia Gómez–Tello & Rosella Nicolini, 2017. "Immigration and productivity: a Spanish tale," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 167-183, April.
    2. Jens J. Krüger, 2016. "Radar scanning the world production frontier," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 1-13, August.
    3. repec:bla:pacecr:v:22:y:2017:i:4:p:587-619 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jens J. Krüger, 2017. "Revisiting the world technology frontier: a directional distance function approach," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 67-95, March.
    5. Robin C. Sickles & Jiaqi Hao & Chenjun Shang, 2014. "Panel data and productivity measurement: an analysis of Asian productivity trends," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 211-231, August.
    6. Sickles, Robin C. & Hao, Jiaqi & Shang, Chenjun, 2015. "Panel Data and Productivity Measurement," Working Papers 15-018, Rice University, Department of Economics.
    7. Mauro Mussini & Biancamaria Zavanella, 2015. "Measuring bipolarization in labour productivity in Italy: a new index and its decomposition by sectors and regional factors," RIVISTA DI ECONOMIA E STATISTICA DEL TERRITORIO, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2015(3), pages 29-55.
    8. Walheer, Barnabé, 2016. "Growth and convergence of the OECD countries: A multi-sector production-frontier approach," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 252(2), pages 665-675.
    9. Oleg Badunenko & Daniel Henderson & Romain Houssa, 2014. "Significant drivers of growth in Africa," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 339-354, December.
    10. Krüger, Jens J., 2015. "Radar scanning the world production frontier," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 222, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
    11. Barnabé Walheer, 2016. "Multi-Sector Nonparametric Production-Frontier Analysis of the Economic Growth and the Convergence of the European Countries," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(4), pages 498-524, October.
    12. Glass, Anthony J. & Kenjegalieva, Karligash & Ajayi, Victor & Adetutu, Morakinyo & Sickles, Robin C., 2016. "Relative Winners and Losers from Efficiency Spillovers in Africa with Policy Implications for Regional Integration," Working Papers 16-003, Rice University, Department of Economics.
    13. Oleg Badunenko & Daniel J. Henderson & Valentin Zelenyuk, 2017. "The Productivity of Nations," Working Papers in Economics & Finance 2017-05, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Business School, Economics and Finance Subject Group.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dispersion; Growth; Data envelopment analysis; Nonparametric; Polarization; Production Frontier; C14; O57; N10;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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