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Measuring Productivity Dispersion: Lessons From Counting One-Hundred Million Ballots

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  • Ilzetzki, Ethan
  • Simonelli, Saverio

Abstract

We measure output per worker in nearly 8,000 municipalities in the Italian electoral process using ballot counting times in the 2013 general election and two referenda in 2016. We document large productivity dispersion across provinces in this very uniform and low-skill task that involves nearly no technology and requires limited physical capital. Using a development accounting framework, this measure explains up to half of the firm-level productivity dispersion across Italian provinces and more than half the north-south productivity gap in Italy. We explore potential drivers of our measure of labor efficiency and find that its association with measures of work ethic and trust is particularly robust.

Suggested Citation

  • Ilzetzki, Ethan & Simonelli, Saverio, 2017. "Measuring Productivity Dispersion: Lessons From Counting One-Hundred Million Ballots," CEPR Discussion Papers 12273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12273
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    Cited by:

    1. Raffaela Giordano & Sergi Lanau & Pietro Tommasino & Petia Topalova, 2020. "Does public sector inefficiency constrain firm productivity? Evidence from Italian provinces," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(4), pages 1019-1049, August.
    2. Boltho, Andrea & Carlin, Wendy & Scaramozzino, Pasquale, 2018. "Why East Germany did not become a new Mezzogiorno," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 308-325.
    3. Raffaela Giordano & Sergi Lanau & Pietro Tommasino & Petia Topalova, 2020. "Does public sector inefficiency constrain firm productivity? Evidence from Italian provinces," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(4), pages 1019-1049, August.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cultural economics; Development accounting; labor productivity; work ethic;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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