Messprobleme bei der Ermittlung des Wachstums der Arbeitsproduktivität – dargestellt anhand eines Vergleichs der Schweiz mit den USA
The paper summarises and advances arguments made earlier by staff members of the Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research in the current debate over the reasons for growth in Switzerland being weak. It is shown that the assessment of the speed of productivity growth crucially depends on how one chooses to measure both labour input and value added. Using the most adequate measures for both variables, and concentrating on the period between 1980 and 1997, we obtain a productivity growth for Switzerland that has been significantly higher than in the U.S. Since 1997, the U.S. have outperformed Europe in general and Switzerland in particular according to a widely held view. We show this view to rely – at least in part – on statistical artefacts. Approximately 0.5 percentage points of the annual growth rates of U.S. GDP (and hence labour productivity) result from revisions to deflation methods which have been introduced in the U.S. since 1998. Switzerland, however, has not introduced such revisions (or has not extrapolated backwards their impacts on the deflators). All in all, our results should help to put into perspective public concern over Swiss growth rates being behind those of other countries.
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