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The Impact of Computers on Productivity in the Trade Sector: Explorations with Dutch Microdata


  • Broersma, L.
  • McGuckin, R.H.


Trends in productivity, labour, and investment in the retail and wholesale trade sectors for the Netherlands in the 1988-94 period are examined. The analysis is based on a longitudinally linked panel of firms from the annual survey of Production Statistics collected by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). We find that computer investments have a positive impact on productivity and that the productivity impact of computers is greater in retail than in wholesale trade. There are a number of possible reasons for this finding, including greater penetration of computers in wholesale trade and differences in the way computers are deployed in the two sectors. Contrary to studies in the U.S., however, the impact of computer capital is about the same as other forms of capital. Differences in empirical specifications arising from the absence of data on capital suggest some caution with respect to this conclusion. We also find increased use of "flexible" employment practices, particularly among retail firms, and these appear related to computer use. As expected the measured impacts of computers on productivity are quite sensitive to the particular deflator used for computer equipment.

Suggested Citation

  • Broersma, L. & McGuckin, R.H., 2000. "The Impact of Computers on Productivity in the Trade Sector: Explorations with Dutch Microdata," Papers 45, Groningen State, Institute of Economic Research-.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:gronig:45

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
    2. Steve Nickell & Jan van Ours, 2000. "The Netherlands and the United Kingdom: a European unemployment miracle?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 135-180, April.
    3. George Papaconstantinou & Norihisa Sakurai & Andrew Wyckoff, 1996. "Embodied Technology Diffusion: An Empirical Analysis for 10 OECD Countries," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 1996/1, OECD Publishing.
    4. Groote, Peter & Albers, Ronald & Jong, Herman de, 1996. "A standardised time series of the stock of fixed capital in the Netherlands, 1900-1995," GGDC Research Memorandum 199625, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
    5. Kleinknecht, Alfred, 1998. "Is Labour Market Flexibility Harmful to Innovation?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 387-396, May.
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    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production


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