IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Transatlantic Productivity Gap: Is R&D the Main Culprit?

  • Ortega-Argilés, Raquel


    (IN+ Center for Innovation)

  • Piva, Mariacristina


    (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

  • Vivarelli, Marco


    (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

The literature has pointed to different causes to explain the productivity gap between Europe and United States in the last decades. This paper tests the hypothesis that the lower European productivity performance in comparison with the US can be explained not only by a lower level of corporate R&D investment, but also by a lower capacity to translate R&D investment into productivity gains. The proposed microeconometric estimates are based on a unique longitudinal database covering the period 1990-2008 and comprising 1,809 US and European companies for a total of 16,079 observations. Consistent with previous literature, we find robust evidence of a significant impact of R&D on productivity; however – using different estimation techniques – the R&D coefficients for the US firms always turn out to be significantly higher. To see to what extent these transatlantic differences may be related to the different sectoral structures in the US and the EU, we differentiated the analysis by sectors. The result is that both in manufacturing, services and high-tech sectors US firms are more efficient in translating their R&D investments into productivity increases.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5586.

in new window

Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming in: Canadian Journal of Economics, 2013
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5586
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. repec:fth:harver:1487 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Bronwyn H. HALL, 2005. "Measuring the Returns to R&D: the Depreciation Problem," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 79-80, pages 341-381.
  3. Jakob Klette & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Innovating firms and aggregate innovation," Staff Report 300, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Greenhalgh, C & Longland, M & Bosworth, D, 2001. "Technological Activity and Employment in a Panel of UK Firms," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 48(3), pages 260-82, August.
  5. Dale W. Jorgenson, 1966. "The Embodiment Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 1.
  6. Bruno Crepon & Emmanuel Duguet & Jacques Mairesse, 1998. "Research, Innovation, and Productivity: An Econometric Analysis at the Firm Level," NBER Working Papers 6696, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Daveri, Francesco, 2002. "The New Economy in Europe, 1992-2001," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  8. Francesco Crespi & Mario Pianta, 2008. "Diversity in innovation and productivity in Europe," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 529-545, August.
  9. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Krusell, Per, 1997. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 342-62, June.
  10. Santamara, Llus & Nieto, Mara Jess & Barge-Gil, Andrs, 2009. "Beyond formal R&D: Taking advantage of other sources of innovation in low- and medium-technology industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 507-517, April.
  11. Thomas Hatzichronoglou, 1997. "Revision of the High-Technology Sector and Product Classification," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 1997/2, OECD Publishing.
  12. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Mairesse, Jacques, 1995. "Exploring the relationship between R&D and productivity in French manufacturing firms," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 263-293, January.
  13. Robert J. Gordon, 2000. "Does the "New Economy" Measure up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," NBER Working Papers 7833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Ramon Gomez-Salvador & Alberto Musso & Marc Stocker & Jarkko Turunen, 2006. "Labour productivity developments in the euro area," Occasional Paper Series 53, European Central Bank.
  15. Charles I. Jones, . "Sources of U.S. Economic Growth in a World of Ideas," Working Papers 98009, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  16. Hulten, Charles R, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change Is Embodied in Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 964-80, September.
  17. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2002. "Information Technology and the U.S. Productivity Revival: What Do the Industry Data Say?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1559-1576, December.
  18. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2000. "The resurgence of growth in the late 1990s: is information technology the story?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  19. Laure Turner & Hervé Boulhol, 2008. "Recent Trends and Structural Breaks in US and EU15 Labour Productivity Growth," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 628, OECD Publishing.
  20. Abowd, John M. & Haltiwanger, John C. & Lane, Julia & McKinney, Kevin Lee & Sandusky, L. Kristin, 2007. "Technology and the Demand for Skill: An Analysis of Within and Between Firm Differences," IZA Discussion Papers 2707, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Robert J. Gordon & Ian Dew-Becker, 2005. "Why did Europe’s productivity catch-up sputter out? a tale of tigers and tortoises," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  22. Azele Mathieu & Bruno Van Pottelsberghe, 2008. "A note on the drivers of R&D intensity," Working Papers CEB 08-002.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  23. Peters, Bettina & Lööf, Hans & Janz, Norbert, 2003. "Firm Level Innovation and Productivity: Is there a Common Story Across Countries?," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-26, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  24. Dietmar Harhoff, 1998. "R&D and Productivity in German Manufacturing Firms," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 29-50.
  25. Zvi Griliches, 1979. "Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 92-116, Spring.
  26. Nadiri, M Ishaq & Prucha, Ingmar R, 1996. "Estimation of the Depreciation Rate of Physical and R&D Capital in the U.S. Total Manufacturing Sector," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 43-56, January.
  27. Raquel Ortega-Argilés & Mariacristina Piva & Lesley Potters & Marco Vivarelli, 2010. "Is Corporate R&D Investment In High-Tech Sectors More Effective?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(3), pages 353-365, 07.
  28. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: US Economic Growth in the Information Age," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 261, OECD Publishing.
  29. Dale W. Jorgenson & Mun S. Ho & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2008. "A Retrospective Look at the U.S. Productivity Growth Resurgence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  30. McMorrow, Kieran & Röger, Werner & Turrini, Alessandro Antonio, 2009. "The EU-US total factor productivity gap : An industry-level perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 7237, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  31. Winter, Sidney G., 1984. "Schumpeterian competition in alternative technological regimes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 287-320.
  32. Robert J. Gordon, 2004. "Five Puzzles in the Behavior of Productivity, Investment, and Innovation," NBER Working Papers 10660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Lööf, Hans & Heshmati, Almas, 2001. "On the Relationship between Innovation and Performance: A sensitivity Analysis," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 0446, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 01 Oct 2001.
  34. Bart van Ark & Mary O'Mahoney & Marcel P. Timmer, 2008. "The Productivity Gap between Europe and the United States: Trends and Causes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 25-44, Winter.
  35. Dosi, Giovanni, 1997. "Opportunities, Incentives and the Collective Patterns of Technological Change," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1530-47, September.
  36. repec:fth:inseep:9833 is not listed on IDEAS
  37. Daniel Wilson, 2004. "IT and beyond: the contribution of heterogeneous capital to productivity," Working Paper Series 2004-13, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  38. Baldwin, John R. & Harchaoui, Tarek, 2002. "Productivity Growth in Canada," Productivity Growth in Canada, Statistics Canada, Economic Analysis, number stcb6e, December.
  39. Philippe Cuneo & Jacques Mairesse, 1984. "Productivity and R&D at the Firm Level in French Manufacturing," NBER Chapters, in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 375-392 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  40. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 1994. "Computers and Output Growth Revisited: How Big Is the Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 273-334.
  41. Pavitt, Keith, 1984. "Sectoral patterns of technical change: Towards a taxonomy and a theory," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 343-373, December.
  42. Acs, Zoltan J & Audretsch, David B & Feldman, Maryann P, 1994. "R&D Spillovers and Recipient Firm Size," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 336-40, May.
  43. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1996. "The Observational Implications of Schumpeterian Growth Theory," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 13-25.
  44. Hercowitz, Zvi, 1998. "The 'embodiment' controversy: A review essay," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 217-224, February.
  45. Bogliacino, Francesco & Pianta, Mario, 2011. "Engines of growth. Innovation and productivity in industry groups," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 41-53, February.
  46. Zoltan Acs & David Audretsch, 1990. "Innovation and Small Firms," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011131, June.
  47. Maria Laura Parisi & Fabio Schiantarelli & Alessandro Sembenelli, 2002. "Productivity, Innovation Creation and Absorption, and R&D: Micro Evidence for Italy," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 526, Boston College Department of Economics.
  48. Acs, Zoltan J & Audretsch, David B, 1988. "Innovation in Large and Small Firms: An Empirical Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 678-90, September.
  49. Berndt, Ernst R. & Morrison, Catherine J., 1992. "High-tech capital formation and economic performance in U.S. manufacturing industries : an exploratory analysis," Working papers 3419-92., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  50. Marcel P. Timmer & Bart van Ark, 2005. "Does information and communication technology drive EU-US productivity growth differentials?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 693-716, October.
  51. Charles R. Hulten, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change is Embodied in Capital," NBER Working Papers 3971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  52. Olivier Blanchard, 2004. "The Economic Future of Europe," NBER Working Papers 10310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  53. Jorgenson, Dale W., 1966. "The Embodiment Hypothesis," Scholarly Articles 3403063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5586. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.