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A Comparison of Real Output and Productivity for British and American Manufacturing in 1935

  • Jong, H. de
  • Woltjer, P.

    (Groningen University)

The manufacturing productivity gap between the U.S. and the U.K. became much larger during the interwar period than existing estimates suggest. This paper presents a new estimate based on real value added and hours worked. First, a detailed benchmark comparison for 1935 is constructed using official industrial census reports. Second, structural shift methodology is applied to analyse productivity movements for industrial branches in the period 1900-1957. U.S. manufacturing shows high comparative levels and growth rates for chemicals and engineering. These results support revisionist accounts of Robert Gordon and Alexander Field on the Depression?s strengthening of American productivity leadership.

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File URL: http://irs.ub.rug.nl/ppn/317810332
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Paper provided by Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen in its series GGDC Research Memorandum with number GD-108.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:rugggd:gd-108
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  1. Field, Alexander James, 1983. "Land Abundance, Interest/Profit Rates, and Nineteenth-Century American and British Technology," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(02), pages 405-431, June.
  2. Bowden, S. & Higgins, D.M. & Price, C., 2006. "A very peculiar practice: Underemployment in Britain during the interwar years," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(01), pages 89-108, April.
  3. Hart, Robert A., 2000. "Hours and Wages in the Depression: British Engineering, 1926-1938," IZA Discussion Papers 132, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Hannah, Leslie, 2006. "The Whig Fable of American Tobacco, 1895 1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(01), pages 42-73, March.
  5. Metcalf, David & Nickell, Stephen J & Floros, Nicos, 1982. "Still Searching for an Explanation of Unemployment in Interwar Britain," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 386-99, April.
  6. Fremdling, Rainer & De Jong, Herman & Timmer, Marcel P., 2007. "British and German Manufacturing Productivity Compared: A New Benchmark for 1935/36 Based on Double Deflated Value Added," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(02), pages 350-378, June.
  7. Alexander J. Field, 2003. "The Most Technologically Progressive Decade of the Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1399-1413, September.
  8. Ward, Marianne & Devereux, John, 2003. "Measuring British Decline: Direct Versus Long-Span Income Measures," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(03), pages 826-851, September.
  9. Boyer, George R. & Hatton, Timothy J., 2002. "New Estimates Of British Unemployment, 1870 1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(03), pages 643-675, September.
  10. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, October.
  11. Fremdling, Rainer & Jong, Herman de & Timmer, Marcel P., 2007. "Censuses compared. A New Benchmark for British and German Manufacturing 1935/1936," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-90, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  12. Field, Alexander J., 2007. "The equipment hypothesis and US economic growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 43-58, January.
  13. Alexander J. Field, 2008. "The impact of the Second World War on US productivity growth -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(3), pages 672-694, 08.
  14. Nelson, Richard R & Wright, Gavin, 1992. "The Rise and Fall of American Technological Leadership: The Postwar Era in Historical Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 1931-64, December.
  15. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2000. "International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820-1990: An Alternative Data Set," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-41, January.
  16. Broadberry, Stephen N. & Irwin, Douglas A., 2006. "Labor productivity in the United States and the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 257-279, April.
  17. Bernanke, Ben S & Parkinson, Martin L, 1991. "Procyclical Labor Productivity and Competing Theories of the Business Cycle: Some Evidence from Interwar U.S. Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 439-59, June.
  18. Broadberry, S. N. & Crafts, N. F. R., 1992. "Britain's Productivity Gap in the 1930s: Some Neglected Factors," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(03), pages 531-558, September.
  19. Robert A. Margo, 1990. "The Microeconomics of Depression Unemployment," NBER Historical Working Papers 0018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Broadberry, Stephen N., 1998. "How Did the United States and Germany Overtake Britian? A Sectoral Analysis of Comparative Productivity Levels, 1870–1990," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 375-407, June.
  21. Temin, Peter, 2002. "The Golden Age of European growth reconsidered," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 3-22, April.
  22. Eichengreen, Barry & Hatton, Tim, 1988. "Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt7bw188gk, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  23. Field, Alexander J., 2006. "Technological Change and U.S. Productivity Growth in the Interwar Years," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(01), pages 203-236, March.
  24. Broadberry, S N & Fremdling, Rainer, 1990. "Comparative Productivity in British and German Industry 1907-37," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(4), pages 403-21, Special I.
  25. van Ark, Bart, 1998. "Productivity," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 171-174, June.
  26. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Raff, Daniel M. G., 1991. "Intra-Industry Heterogeneity and the Great Depression: The American Motor Vehicles Industry, 1929–1935," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(02), pages 317-331, June.
  27. Alexander J. Field, 2007. "The origins of US total factor productivity growth in the golden age," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 1(1), pages 63-90, April.
  28. Temin, Peter, 1966. "Labor Scarcity and the Problem of American Industrial Efficiency in the 1850's," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(03), pages 277-298, September.
  29. Huberman, Michael & Minns, Chris, 2007. "The times they are not changin': Days and hours of work in Old and New Worlds, 1870-2000," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 538-567, October.
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