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Productivity or Employment: Is It a Choice?

  • Andrea De Michelis

    ()

  • Marcello Estevão

    ()

  • Beth Anne Wilson

    ()

Traditionally, shocks to total factor productivity (TFP) are considered exogenous and the response of employment is determined by their effect on aggregate demand. We approach the relationship between TFP and labour input differently, raising the possibility that in response to labour supply shocks firms adjust production efficiency. TFP would, thus, be endogenous to firms’ production decisions. We present cross-country evidence of a strong negative correlation between growth in TFP and labour inputs over the medium to long run. This result is robust to changing datasets, sample periods, and industry composition. To address the question of causality, we use instruments to capture changes in hours worked that are independent of TFP movements and find that TFP growth falls (increases) following a pickup (decline) in hours growth. These results have important policy implications.

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File URL: http://www.csls.ca/ipm/25/IPM-25-Michelis-Estevao-Wilson.pdf
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Article provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its journal International Productivity Monitor.

Volume (Year): 25 (2013)
Issue (Month): (Spring)
Pages: 41-60

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Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:25:y:2013:5
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  1. Susanto Basu, 1995. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," NBER Working Papers 5336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345.
  3. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1995, Volume 10, pages 67-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2012. "The Role of Labor-Market Changes in the Slowdown of European Productivity," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 3(2).
  5. Lee Ohanian & Andrea Raffo & Richard Rogerson, 2006. "Long-Term Changes in Labor Supply and Taxes: Evidence from OECD Countries, 1956-2004," NBER Working Papers 12786, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. van Ark, Bart, 1998. "Productivity," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 171-174, June.
  7. Holmes, Thomas J. & Jr., James A. Schmitz, 2001. "A gain from trade: From unproductive to productive entrepreneurship," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 417-446, April.
  8. Paul Beaudry & Fabrice Collard & David A. Green, 2005. "Explaining Productivity Growth: The Role of Demographics," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 10, pages 45-58, Spring.
  9. Mary O'Mahony & Marcel P. Timmer, 2009. "Output, Input and Productivity Measures at the Industry Level: The EU KLEMS Database," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(538), pages F374-F403, 06.
  10. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
  11. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2012. "The World KLEMS Initiative," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 24, pages 5-19, Fall.
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