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A Note on Productivity and Per Capita GDP Growth: the Role of the Forgotten Factors

  • L. Marattin
  • S. Salotti

Average hourly productivity has often been used to draw conclusions on long run per capita GDP growth, based on the assumption of full utilization of labour resources. In this paper, we argue that a failure to recognize the potentially significant wedges among the two variables – even in the long run - can be misleading. By applying both time series and panel cointegration techniques on data on 19 OECD countries, we fail to reject the hypothesis of absence of a long run common stochastic trend among the two variables in the period 1980-2005. Furthermore, we apply a simple decomposition of GDP growth into five variables, included some related to the supply-side and demographics, so to verify the single contributions to income growth and variance over our period of interest. We conclude that variables that have been so far absent in the growth literature have indeed a non-negligible role in explaining the dynamics of long run per capita GDP growth. In particular, these “forgotten factors” (that we identify with the employment and the activity rates and a demographic ratio) matter more in better performing economies, where we also highlight that productivity has been less important in determining GDP growth than in relatively bad performers.

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Paper provided by Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna in its series Working Papers with number 667.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:667
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  1. Piacentini Paolo & Sulis G., 2000. "Crescita virtuosa e crescita neodualistica nell'ambito regionale: tendenze recenti per le aree europee in ritardo di sviluppo," Rivista economica del Mezzogiorno, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 57-98.
  2. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2000. "The resurgence of growth in the late 1990s: is information technology the story?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-20, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Davidson, James E H, et al, 1978. "Econometric Modelling of the Aggregate Time-Series Relationship between Consumers' Expenditure and Income in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 88(352), pages 661-92, December.
  4. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
  5. Karl Whelan, 2000. "Computers, obsolescence, and productivity," Open Access publications 10197/244, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  6. Corbae, Dean & Ouliaris, Sam, 1988. "Cointegration and Tests of Purchasing Power Parity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 508-11, August.
  7. Baillie, Richard T. & Selover, David D., 1987. "Cointegration and models of exchange rate determination," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 43-51.
  8. Kremers, Jeroen J. M., 1989. "U.S. Federal indebtedness and the conduct of fiscal policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 219-238, March.
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