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Productivity Growth and Levels in France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States in the Twentieth Century

  • Cette, G.
  • Kocoglu, Y.
  • Mairesse, J.

This study compares labor and total factor productivity (TFP) in France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States in the very long (since 1890) and medium (since 1980) runs. During the past century, the United States has overtaken the United Kingdom and become the leading world economy. During the past 25 years, the four countries have also experienced contrasting advances in productivity, in particular as a result of unequal investment in information and communication technology (ICT). The past 120 years have been characterized by: (i) rapid economic growth and large productivity gains in all four countries; (ii) a long decline in productivity in the United Kingdom relative to the United States, and to a lesser extent also relative to France and Japan, a relative decline that was interrupted by the second world war (WW2); (iii) the remarkable catching-up to the United States by France and Japan after WW2, interrupted in the case of Japan during the 1990s. Capital deepening (at least to the extent this can be measured) accounts for a large share of the variations in performance; increasingly during the past 25 years, this has meant ICT capital deepening. However, the capital contribution to growth varies considerably over time and across the four countries, and it is always less important, except in Japan, than the contribution of the various other factors underlying TFP growth, such as, among others, labor skills, technical and organizational changes and knowledge spillovers. Most recently (in 2006), before the current financial world crisis, hourly labor productivity levels were slightly higher in France than in the United States, and noticeably lower in the United Kingdom (by roughly 10%) and even lower in Japan (30%), while TFP levels are very close in France, the United Kingdom and the United States, but much lower (40%) in Japan.

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Paper provided by Banque de France in its series Working papers with number 271.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:271
Contact details of provider: Postal: Banque de France 31 Rue Croix des Petits Champs LABOLOG - 49-1404 75049 PARIS
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  1. Jacques Mairesse & Gilbert Cette & Yussuf Kocoglu, 2000. "La mesure de l'investissement en technologies de l'information et de la communication : quelques considérations méthodologiques," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 339(1), pages 73-91.
  2. Yusuf Kocoglu, 2001. "La productivité du capital productif fixe sur longue période : une analyse empirique sur la France," Histoire, économie & société, Programme National Persée, vol. 20(1), pages 65-85.
  3. repec:dgr:rugggd:200469 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Gilbert Cette & Jimmy Lopez, 2008. "What Explains the ICT Diffusion Gap Between the Major Industrialized Countries: An Empirical Analysis?," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 17, pages 28-39, Fall.
  5. Bart van Ark & Mary O'Mahoney & Marcel P. Timmer, 2008. "The Productivity Gap between Europe and the United States: Trends and Causes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 25-44, Winter.
  6. Dale W. Jorgenson & Khuong Vu, 2005. "Information Technology and the World Economy," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(4), pages 631-650, December.
  7. Dale W. Jorgenson & Mun S. Ho & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2008. "A Retrospective Look at the U.S. Productivity Growth Resurgence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  8. Ian Babetskii & Nauro Campos, 2006. "Does Reform Work? An Econometric Examination of the Reform-Growth Puzzle," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp870, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  9. Nicholas Crafts, 2004. "Steam as a general purpose technology: A growth accounting perspective," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 338-351, 04.
  10. Cahn, Christophe & Saint-Guilhem, Arthur, 2007. "Potential output growth in several industrialised countries: a comparison," Working Paper Series 0828, European Central Bank.
  11. Renaud Bourlès & Gilbert Cette, 2005. "A comparison of structural productivity levels in the major industrialised countries," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2005(2), pages 75-108.
  12. David Card & Richard B. Freeman, 2002. "What Have Two Decades of British Economic Reform Delivered?," NBER Working Papers 8801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Zvi Griliches, 1996. "The Discovery of the Residual: A Historical Note," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1324-1330, September.
  14. repec:dgr:rugggd:199409 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Nicholas Oulton & Sylaja Srinivasan, 2005. "Productivity growth in UK industries, 1970-2000: structural change and the role of ICT," Bank of England working papers 259, Bank of England.
  16. Maury, T-P. & Pluyaud, B., 2004. "Les ruptures de tendance de la productivité par employé de quelques grands pays industrialisés," Bulletin de la Banque de France, Banque de France, issue 121, pages 70-86.
  17. Nicholas Crafts, 2004. "Fifty Years of Economic Growth in Western Europe," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 5(2), pages 131-145, April.
  18. Aghion, Philippe & Askenazy, Philippe & Bourlès, Renaud & Cette, Gilbert & Dromel, Nicolas, 2007. "Education, Market Rigidities and Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 3166, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. repec:dgr:rugggd:200363 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Jacques Mairesse & Gilbert Cette & Yussuf Kocoglu, 2000. "Les technologies de l'information et de la communication en France : diffusion et contribution à la croissance," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 339(1), pages 117-146.
  21. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kazuyuki Motohashi, 2005. "Information Technology and the Japanese Economy," NBER Working Papers 11801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Roger W. Ferguson & William L. Wascher, 2004. "Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: Lessons from Past Productivity Booms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 3-28, Spring.
  23. Gilbert Cette & Jacques Mairesse & Yusuf Kocoglu, 2004. "Diffusion des TIC et croissance potentielle," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 114(1), pages 77-97.
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