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Does Disappointing European Productivity Growth Reflect a Slowing Trend? Weighing the Evidence and Assessing the Future

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  • John G. Fernald
  • Robert Inklaar

Abstract

In the years since the Great Recession, many observers have highlighted the slow pace of labor and total factor productivity (TFP) growth in advanced economies. This paper focuses on the European experience, where we highlight that trend TFP growth was already low in the runup to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). This suggests that it is important to consider factors other than just the deep crisis itself or policy changes since the crisis. After the mid-1990s, European economies stopped converging, or even began diverging, from the U.S. level of TFP. That said, in contrast to the United States, there is some macroeconomic evidence for some northern European countries that the GFC had a further adverse impact on TFP growth. Still, the challenges for economic policy look surprisingly similar to the ones discussed prior to the Great Recession, even if the policy implications seem less clear.

Suggested Citation

  • John G. Fernald & Robert Inklaar, 2020. "Does Disappointing European Productivity Growth Reflect a Slowing Trend? Weighing the Evidence and Assessing the Future," Working Paper Series 2020-22, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:88300
    DOI: 10.24148/wp2020-22
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    Keywords

    Productivity Growth; Great Recession; Convergence;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • F45 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Macroeconomic Issues of Monetary Unions
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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