IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Productivity Slowdown Puzzle. Technological and Non-technological Shocks in the Labor Market

  • Enrico Saltari
  • Giuseppe Travaglini

In this paper we address the question of whether labor supply shifts are the only source of the productivity slowdown that occurred across European countries in the last 15 years. This explanation implies that labor demand shifts are irrelevant. Using a simple dynamic model of the labor market, we show that the poor economic performance of the European countries can only be accounted for by a combination of two shocks: an adverse technological shock to the labor demand and a positive non-technological shock to the labor supply resulting from changes in institutions. We use a structural VAR model to estimate the contribution of these two shocks to the dynamics of employment and productivity. Our main conclusion is that technological shocks explain the decrease of the growth rate of productivity but not the increase in employment. The non-technological shocks, on the other hand, can capture the increase of employment but not the slowdown of labor productivity. Thus, both shocks are necessary to provide a complete picture of the employment-productivity trade off in Europe during the last 15 years.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 23 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 483-509

in new window

Handle: RePEc:taf:intecj:v:23:y:2009:i:4:p:483-509
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Oliver J. Blanchard, 1997. "The Medium Run," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 89-158.
  2. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Danny Quah, 1988. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbance," Working papers 497, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Stephen Nickell, 2003. "Labour Market Institutions and Unemployment in OECD Countries," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 1(2), pages 13-26, October.
  4. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Specificity," NBER Working Papers 5757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
  6. Olivier Blanchard & Justin Wolfers, 1999. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Marcello M. Estevão, 2004. "Why is Productivity Growth in the Euro Area so Sluggish?," IMF Working Papers 04/200, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Richard Layard & Stephen Nickell, 1998. "Labour Market Institutions and Economic Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0407, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Belot, Michèle & van Ours, Jan C, 2000. "Does the Recent Success of some OECD Countries in Lowering their Unemployment Rates lie in the Clever Design of their Labour Market Reforms?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2492, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel, 2005. "Unemployment in the OECD Since the 1960s. What Do We Know?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 1-27, 01.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:intecj:v:23:y:2009:i:4:p:483-509. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.