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

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  • Enrico Saltari
  • Giuseppe Travaglini

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Enrico Saltari & Giuseppe Travaglini, 2009. "The Productivity Slowdown Puzzle. Technological and Non-technological Shocks in the Labor Market," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(4), pages 483-509.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:intecj:v:23:y:2009:i:4:p:483-509
    DOI: 10.1080/10168730903377819
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Leonello Tronti, 2010. "The Italian productivity slow-down: the role of the bargaining model," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 31(7), pages 770-792, October.
    2. Francesca Marino, 2013. "The Italian productivity slowdown in a Real Business Cycle perspective," SERIES 0046, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza - Università degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro", revised Apr 2013.
    3. Marianna Belloc & Paolo Guerrieri, 2015. "Impact of ICT diffusion and adoption on sectoral industrial performance: evidence from a panel of European countries," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 32(1), pages 67-84, April.
    4. Saltari, Enrico & Wymer, Clifford R. & Federici, Daniela, 2013. "The impact of ICT and business services on the Italian economy," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 110-118.
    5. Enrico Saltari, 2012. "The role of ICT and Business Services in Italy," Working Papers 152, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.
    6. Giuseppe Travaglini, 2010. "The dynamic effects of technological and non technological shocks in the energy sector: a case study for Italy," Working Papers 1001, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2010.
    7. Giorgio Calcagnini & Germana Giombini & Giuseppe Travaglini, 2015. "The productivity gap among European countries," Working Papers 1510, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2015.
    8. Calcagnini, Giorgio & Giombini, Germana & Travaglini, Giuseppe, 2016. "Modelling energy intensity, pollution per capita and productivity in Italy: A structural VAR approach," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 1482-1492.
    9. Francesca Marino, 2016. "The Italian productivity slowdown in a Real Business Cycle perspective," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 63(2), pages 171-193, June.
    10. Stefano Lucarelli & Roberto Romano, 2016. "The Italian Crisis within the European Crisis. The Relevance of the Technological Foreign Constraint," World Economic Review, World Economics Association, vol. 2016(6), pages 1-12, February.
    11. Giuseppe Travaglini, 2014. "Crisi economica, flessibilità del lavoro e produttività," PRISMA Economia - Società - Lavoro, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(1), pages 11-24.
    12. Sequeira Tiago Neves & Ferreira-Lopes Alexandra & Gomes Orlando, 2014. "A growth model with qualities, varieties, and human capital: stability and transitional dynamics," Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 18(5), pages 1-13, December.
    13. Germana Giombini & Francesco Perugini & Giuseppe Travaglini, 2016. "The productivity slowdown puzzle of European countries: a focus on Italy," Working Papers 1606, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2016.
    14. Calcagnini, Giorgio & Travaglini, Giuseppe, 2014. "A time series analysis of labor productivity. Italy versus the European countries and the U.S," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 622-628.
    15. E. et al. Saltari, 2011. "The impact of ICT on the Italian productivity dynamics," Working Papers 149, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.
    16. Saltari Enrico & Wymer Clifford R. & Federici Daniela & Giannetti Marilena, 2012. "Technological Adoption with Imperfect Markets in the Italian Economy," Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 1-30, April.
    17. Fabio Busetti & Claire Giordano & Giordano Zevi, 2016. "The Drivers of Italy’s Investment Slump During the Double Recession," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 2(2), pages 143-165, July.

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    Keywords

    Productivity slowdown; labor market; SVAR;

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