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The UK Productivity and Jobs Puzzle: Does the Answer Lie in Labour Market Flexibility?

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Abstract

GDP per worker fell for the five years after 2008 which is unprecedented in post war UK history. In this paper we argue that "capital shallowing" (i.e. the fall in the capital-labour ratio) could be the main reason for this. This is likely to have occurred due to changes in factor prices: a large fall in real wages and increases in the cost of capital. In previous recessions real wages did not fall, but reforms to union strength and welfare have made wages more sensitive to negative demand shocks. This wage flexibility is desirable as it reduces the risks of long-term unemployment building up. After accounting for changes in capital TFP is more similar to earlier recessions and likely to be related to under-utilised resources and misallocation. The fall in labour productivity is therefore likely to reverse if demand improves - e.g. through stronger monetary or fiscal policy stimulus.

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  • Joao Paulo Pessoa & John Van Reenen, 2013. "The UK Productivity and Jobs Puzzle: Does the Answer Lie in Labour Market Flexibility?," CEP Special Papers 31, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepsps:31
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bagaria, Nitika & Petrongolo, Barbara & Van Reenen, John, 2015. "Can Helping the Sick Hurt the Able? Incentives, Information and Disruption in a Disability-Related Welfare Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 9089, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Riley, Rebecca & Rosazza-Bondibene, Chiara & Young, Garry, 2015. "The UK productivity puzzle 2008-13: evidence from British businesses," Bank of England working papers 531, Bank of England.
    3. Hau, Harald & Huang, Yi & Wang, Gewei, 2016. "Firm Response to Competitive Shocks: Evidence from China's Minimum Wage Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 11429, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Oulton, Nicholas, 2013. "Medium and long run prospects for UK growth in the aftermathof the financial crisis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58239, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Rebecca Riley & Chiara Rosazza Bondibene & Garry Young, 2013. "Productivity Dynamics in the Great Stagnation: Evidence from British businesses," Discussion Papers 1407, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM), revised Apr 2014.
    6. Nitika Bagaria & Felix Koenig & Barbara Petrongolo & John Van Reenen, 2015. "Can Helping the Sick Hurt the Able? Incentives, Information and Disruption in a Welfare Reform," CEP Discussion Papers dp1347, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    7. Avouyi-Dovi, S. & Lecat, R. & O’Donnell, C. & Bureau, B. & Villetelle, J.-P., 2016. "Les crédits aux entreprises à taux particulièrement bas en France," Bulletin de la Banque de France, Banque de France, issue 203, pages 5-18.
    8. S. Avouyi-Dovi. & R. Lecat. & C. O’Donnell. & B. Bureau. & J.-P. Villetelle., 2016. "Corporate loans at particularly low rates in France," Quarterly selection of articles - Bulletin de la Banque de France, Banque de France, issue 41, pages 27-39, spring.
    9. Harald Hau & Yi Huang & Gewei Wang, 2017. "Firm Response to Competitive Shocks: Evidence from China's Minimum Wage Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 6637, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Ana Rincon-Aznar & Rebecca Riley & Garry Young, 2017. "Academic Review of Asset Lives in the UK," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 474, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    11. Rebecca Riley & Chiara Rosazza-Bondibene, 2015. "The UK Productivity Puzzle 2008-2013: Evidence From British Businesses," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 450, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    productivity; employment; wages; labour market flexibility;

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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