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Revisiting recent productivity developments across OECD countries

  • Bruno Tissot
  • Les Skoczylas
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    This paper compares productivity developments across industrial countries based on official OECD data in the business sector. It discusses the uncertainties surrounding the measurement of both productivity levels and productivity growth, and then focuses on changes in productivity growth. The paper analyses labour productivity patterns and trends of total factor productivity (TFP) across countries. The recent performance of the United States clearly stands out. In particular, the level of US labour productivity appears to be the highest among the major industrial countries and has been rising the fastest in the recent past. Despite substantial uncertainties surrounding these international comparisons, there is little doubt that the US performance has improved sharply in relative terms. Productivity has accelerated in the United States but decelerated in most other industrial economies. Indeed, only a few countries have experienced a structural improvement in their productivity performance over recent years. Moreover, rather than just reflecting stronger capital accumulation, the US performance has been associated with a higher rate of technological progress that was maintained during the latest recession. In contrast, the accumulation of capital has been quite strong in most other major industrial economies. This might be a source of concern in some places, given the observed trend decline in the rate of technical progress.

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    Paper provided by Bank for International Settlements in its series BIS Working Papers with number 182.

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    Length: 61 pages
    Date of creation: Sep 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:182
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    1. Diego Comin, 2004. "Using Investment Data to Assess the Importance of Price Mismeasurement," NBER Working Papers 10627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Christophe Kamps, 2004. "New Estimates of Government Net Capital Stocks for 22 OECD Countries 1960-2001," IMF Working Papers 04/67, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Nadim Ahmad & François Lequiller & Pascal Marianna & Dirk Pilat & Paul Schreyer & Anita Wölfl, 2003. "Comparing Labour Productivity Growth in the OECD Area: The Role of Measurement," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2003/5, OECD Publishing.
    4. Karl Aiginger, 2004. "The Economic Agenda: a View from Europe," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 187-206, 05.
    5. Olivier Blanchard, 2004. "The Economic Future of Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
    6. Charles Steindel, 2004. "The relationship between manufacturing production and goods output," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 10(Aug).
    7. Belorgey, Nicolas & Lecat, Remy & Maury, Tristan-Pierre, 2006. "Determinants of productivity per employee: An empirical estimation using panel data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 153-157, May.
    8. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald & Nicholas Oulton & Sylaja Srinivasan, 2003. "The case of the missing productivity growth: or, does information technology explain why productivity accelerated in the United States but not the United Kingdom?," Working Paper Series WP-03-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    9. Maury, P-M. & Pluyaud, B., 2004. "The Breaks in per Capita Productivity Trends in a Number of Industrial Countries," Working papers 111, Banque de France.
    10. Alain de Serres, 2003. "Structural Policies and Growth: A Non-Technical Overview," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 355, OECD Publishing.
    11. Dirk Pilat, 1996. "Labour Productivity Levels in OECD Countries: Estimates for Manufacturing and Selected Service Sectors," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 169, OECD Publishing.
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