Why do some countries produce so much more output per worker than others? - A note
In an important paper, Hall and Jones (1999) show that international differences in output per worker across 127 countries in 1988 are fundamentally determined by variations in, what they term, a country's ``social infrastructure''. This paper conducts a robustness check of their findings by implementing a testing framework that is radically different to their approach. Specifically, we estimate a stochastic, rather than a deterministic, production frontier and we also model the potential role of social infrastructure in explaining productivity in a single step, rather than the statistically unsatisfactory two-step method used by Hall and Jones. We obtain two important findings that are strongly supportive of Hall and Jones' results. First, the bulk of inter-country variation in output per worker is accounted for by differences in productivity. Second, social infrastructure is found to be a highly significant variable in explaining inter-country productivity differences.
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