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The US productivity slowdown, the baby boom, and management quality

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  • James Feyrer

Abstract

This paper examines whether management changes caused by the entry of the baby boom into the workforce explain the US productivity slowdown in the 1970s and resurgence in the 1990s. Lucas (1978) suggests that the quality of managers plays a significant role in determining output. If there is heterogeneity across workers and management skill improves with experience, an influx of young workers will lower the overall quality of management and lower total factor productivity. Census data shows that the entry of the baby boom resulted in more managers being hired from the smaller, pre baby boom cohorts. These marginal managers were necessarily of lower quality. As the boomers aged and gained experience, this effect was reversed, increasing managerial quality and raising total factor productivity. Using the Lucas model as a framework, a calibrated model of managers, workers, and firms suggests that the management effects of the baby boom may explain roughly 20 percent of the observed productivity slowdown and resurgence.
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Suggested Citation

  • James Feyrer, 2011. "The US productivity slowdown, the baby boom, and management quality," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(1), pages 267-284, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:24:y:2011:i:1:p:267-284
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-009-0294-z
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    3. Beaudreau, Bernard C., 2017. "The economies of speed, KE=1/2mv2 and the productivity slowdown," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 100-113.
    4. Vandenbroucke, Guillaume, 2021. "The baby boomers and the productivity slowdown," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 132(C).
    5. Geoffrey Dunbar & Stephen Easton, 2013. "Working parents and total factor productivity growth," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(4), pages 1431-1456, October.
    6. Wongboonsin, Kua & Phiromswad, Piyachart, 2017. "Searching for empirical linkages between demographic structure and economic growth," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 364-379.
    7. Asphjell, Magne K. & Hensvik, Lena & Nilsson, J. Peter, 2013. "Businesses, Buddies, and Babies: Fertility and Social Interactions at Work," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2013:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    8. Xiaoxi Wang & Yaojun Zhang & Danlin Yu & Xiwei Wu & Ding Li, 2022. "Changes in Demographic Factors’ Influence on Regional Productivity Growth: Empirical Evidence from China, 2000–2010," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(7), pages 1-19, April.
    9. Sang Yoon (Tim) Lee, 2019. "Entrepreneurs, managers and inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 32, pages 42-67, April.
    10. Yigang Wei & Zhichao Wang & Huiwen Wang & Yan Li & Zhenyu Jiang, 2019. "Predicting population age structures of China, India, and Vietnam by 2030 based on compositional data," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(4), pages 1-42, April.
    11. Staley, Mark, 2018. "The Knowledge-Diffusion Bottleneck in Economic Growth and Development," MPRA Paper 87255, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Productivity; Demographics; Manager; O4; J1; E2;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada

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