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Productivity trends from 1890 to 2012 in advanced countries

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  • Bergeaud, A.
  • Cette, G.
  • Lecat, R.

Abstract

In order to examine innovation diffusion and convergence processes, we study productivity trends, trend breaks and levels for 13 advanced countries over 1890-2012. We highlight two productivity waves, a big one following the second industrial revolution and a small one following the ICT revolution. The first big wave was staggered across countries, hitting the US first in the Interwar years and the rest of the world after World War II. It came long after the actual innovation could be implemented, emphasizing a long diffusion process. The productivity leader changed during the period under study, the Australian and UK leadership becoming a US one during the first part of the XXth century and, for very particular reasons, also a Norwegian, Dutch and French one at least for some years at the end of the XXth century. The convergence process has been erratic, halted by inappropriate institutions, technology shocks, financial crises but above all by wars, which led to major productivity level leaps, downwards for countries experiencing war on their soil, upwards for other countries. Productivity trend breaks are detected following wars, global financial crises, global supply shocks (such as the oil price shocks) and major policy changes (such as structural reforms in Canada or Sweden). The upward trend break for the US in the mid-1990s is confirmed, as well as the downward trend break for the Euro Area in the same period. The downward trend break observed as early as the mid-2000s for the US leads one to question the future contribution of the ICT revolution to productivity enhancement.

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  • Bergeaud, A. & Cette, G. & Lecat, R., 2014. "Productivity trends from 1890 to 2012 in advanced countries," Working papers 475, Banque de France.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:475
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    2. Carlo Ciccarelli & Matteo Gomellini & Paolo Sestito, 2019. "Demography and Productivity in the Italian Manufacturing Industry: Yesterday and Today," CEIS Research Paper 457, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 16 May 2019.
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    5. Gilbert Cette & Jimmy Lopez & Jacques Mairesse, 2016. "Product and Labour Market Regulations, Production Prices, Wages and Productivity," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 7(2).
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    7. Bart van Ark, 2014. "Priorities and Directions for Future Productivity Research: The Need for Historical Perspective," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 27, pages 17-19, Fall.
    8. Cette, Gilbert & Fernald, John & Mojon, Benoît, 2016. "The pre-Great Recession slowdown in productivity," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 3-20.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Productivity; convergence; technological change; global history.;

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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