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Productivity, Wages and Prices Inside and Outside of Manufacturing in the US, Japan and Europe

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  • Gordon, Robert J

Abstract

This paper studies the dynamic behaviour of changes in productivity, wages, and prices. Results are based on a new data set that allows a consistent analysis of the aggregate economy, the manufacturing sector, and the non-manufacturing sector. Results are presented for the United States, Japan, and an aggregate called "Europe" consisting of eleven European economies. The primary theme of the paper is that the differences between Europe and the United States have been substantially exaggerated in recent work. Europe has neither greater nominal wage flexibility nor more rigid real wages than the United States. Evidence that the United States exhibits more nominal rigidity is confined to manufacturing, while the United States aggregate and non-manufacturing sectors display as much nominal wage flexibility as Europe, and similar "output sacrifice ratios" as well. These results undermine the case frequently made against demand expansion in Europe namely that as a result of a uniquely vertical European aggregate supply curve, such a demand expansion would only create more inflation without bringing any of the benefits of increased output. The analysis of real wages also yields new results. A consistent treatment of the income of the self-employed almost completely eliminates the secular increase between the 1960s and 1980s in the wage gap indices for Japan and Europe. If anything, real wages in Europe and Japan were too flexible rather than too rigid, in the sense that much of the increase in wage gap indices in Europe during 1968-70 and in Japan in 1973-74 can be interpreted as autonomous wage push. Only a very small part of the increase in the wage gap can be attributed to a failure of real wages to respond to the post-1972 productivity growth slowdown. The paper's analysis of productivity change confirms the real-wage elasticity of labour input emphasized previously, but shows that the response of productivity to changes in the real wage, and to cyclical output fluctuations, is roughly the same the United States, Japan, and Europe. The cyclical analysis allows an estimate of trend productivity growth, revealing interesting differences between the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors in the three economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Gordon, Robert J, 1986. "Productivity, Wages and Prices Inside and Outside of Manufacturing in the US, Japan and Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 134, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:134
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. Gordon, 1977. "World Inflation and Monetary Accommodation in Eight Countries," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 8(2), pages 409-478.
    2. Franz, Wolfgang & Konig, Heinz, 1986. "The Nature and Causes of Unemployment in the Federal Republic of Germany since the 1970s: An Empirical Investigation," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(210(S)), pages 219-244, Supplemen.
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    4. Robert J. Gordon, 1985. "Understanding Inflation in the 1980s," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(1), pages 263-302.
    5. William H. Branson & Julio J. Rotemberg, 1991. "International Adjustment with Wage Rigidity," NBER Chapters,in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 13-44 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1986. "Empirical Structural Evidence on Wages, Prices and Employment in the US," NBER Working Papers 2044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Hamada, Koichi & Kurosaka, Yoshio, 1984. "The relationship between production and unemployment in Japan : Okun's law in comparative perspective," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 71-94, June.
    8. Grubb, David B, 1986. "Topics in the OECD Phillips Curve," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(381), pages 55-79, March.
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    10. Tullio, Giuseppe, 1987. "Long run implications of the increase in taxation and public debt for employment and economic growth in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 741-774, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bester, Helmut & Petrakis, Emmanuel, 2003. "Wages and productivity growth in a competitive industry," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 52-69, March.
    2. Bester, Helmut & Petrakis, Emmanuel, 2004. "Wages and productivity growth in a dynamic monopoly," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 83-100, January.
    3. Hibbs, Douglas A, Jr, 2000. "Bread and Peace Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 104(1-2), pages 149-180, July.
    4. Pehkonen, Jaakko, 1995. "Wages and productivity growth in the Nordic countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 1181-1196, June.
    5. zamparelli, luca, 2008. "Direction and intensity of technical change: a micro-founded growth model," MPRA Paper 10843, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Saten Kumar & Don J. Webber & Geoff Perry, 2009. "Real wages, inflation and labour productivity in Australia," Working Papers 0921, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    7. Jean Le Dem & Frédéric Lerais, 1990. "Où va la productivité du travail ?," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 237(1), pages 49-67.
    8. Patrick Artus & Sani Avouyi-Dovi, 1990. "Inflation anticipée, politique monétaire et taux d'intérêt aux Etats-Unis," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 41(3), pages 581-598.
    9. Bester, Helmut & Milliou, Chrysovalantou & Petrakis, Emmanuel, 2012. "Wage bargaining, productivity growth and long-run industry structure," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 923-930.
    10. Soltwedel, Rüdiger & Bothe, Adrian & Hoffmeyer, Martin & Laaser, Claus-Friedrich & Lammers, Konrad & Merz, Monika & Reuter, Dieter, 1990. "Regulierungen auf dem Arbeitsmarkt der Bundesrepublik," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 418, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    11. Hibbs, Douglas A, Jr & Locking, Hakan, 2000. "Wage Dispersion and Productive Efficiency: Evidence for Sweden," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 755-782, October.
    12. Erol Taymaz & Ebru Voyvoda & Kamil Yilmaz, 2014. "Demokrasiye Gecis, Reel ucretler ve Verimlilik: Turk Imalat Sanayiinden Bulgular," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1408, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    13. Lawrence Summers & Jonathan Gruber & Rodrigo Vergara, 1993. "Taxation and the Structure of Labor Markets: The Case of Corporatism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 385-411.
    14. Chirinko, Robert S., 1995. "Nonconvexities, labor hoarding, technology shocks, and procyclical productivity a structural econometric analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1-2), pages 61-98.

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