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The Industry Anatomy of the Transatlantic Productivity Growth Slowdown: Europe Chasing the American Frontier


  • Robert J. Gordon


  • Hassan Sayed


By merging KLEMS data covering 16 industry groups within the total economy and 11 manufacturing sub-industries, we compare and contrast productivity growth from 1950 to 2015 in the United States with an aggregate of the ten largest European nations (EU-10) from 1972 to 2015. We interpret the EU-10 performance as catching up to the United States in stages. Strikingly, the total economy "early-to-late" productivity growth slowdown from 1972-1995 to 2005-2015 in the EU-10 (-1.68 percentage points) was almost identical to the U.S. slowdown from 1950-1972 to 2005-2015 (-1.67 percentage points). There is a very high EU-U.S. correlation in the magnitude of the early-to-late slowdown in each industry, suggesting that the productivity growth slowdown from the early postwar years to the most recent decade was due to a retardation in technical change that affected the same industries by roughly the same magnitudes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Gordon & Hassan Sayed, 2019. "The Industry Anatomy of the Transatlantic Productivity Growth Slowdown: Europe Chasing the American Frontier," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 37, pages 3-38, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:37:y:2019:1

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    Productivity growth; Europe; United States;

    JEL classification:

    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance


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