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Cross-country Conversion Factors for Sectoral Productivity Comparisons

  • Johannes Van Biesebroeck

International comparisons of the level of labor or total factor productivity have used exchange rates or purchasing power parity (PPP) to make output and capital comparable across countries. Recent evidence suggests that aggregate PPP holds rather well in the long run, making it a good basis for comparison. At the same time, sectoral deviations from PPP are very persistent, raising the need for disaggregate price measures to make disaggregate productivity comparisons. Sectoral differences in the importance of nontradables make it even more important to work with sectoral prices when country-comparisons are made at the sectoral level. Mapping prices from household expenditure surveys into the industrial classification of sectors and adjusting for taxes and international trade, I obtain a sector-specific PPP measure. The few previous studies that used sectoral prices only had conversion factors available for a single year. With price data for 1985, 1990, 1993, and 1996, I am the first to test whether the constructed conversion factors adequately capture differential changes in relative prices between countries. For some industries--Agriculture, Mining, and less sophisticated manufacturing sectors--the indices prove adequate. For most other industries, aggregate PPP is a superior currency conversion factor.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10279.

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Date of creation: Feb 2004
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Publication status: published as Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2009. "Disaggregate productivity comparisons: sectoral convergence in OECD countries," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 63-79, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10279
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  1. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2004. "Cross-country Conversion Factors for Sectoral Productivity Comparisons," NBER Working Papers 10279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Scott Bradford, 2003. "Paying the Price: Final Goods Protection in OECD Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 24-37, February.
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  12. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1995. "How wide is the border?," International Finance Discussion Papers 498, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Dirk Pilat, 1996. "Labour Productivity Levels in OECD Countries: Estimates for Manufacturing and Selected Service Sectors," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 169, OECD Publishing.
  14. Anders Sorensen, 2001. "Comparing Apples to Oranges: Productivity Convergence and Measurement across Industries and Countries: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1160-1167, September.
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  17. D. S. Prasada Rao & Marcel P. Timmer, 2003. "Purchasing Power Parities for Industry Comparisons Using Weighted Elteto-Koves-Szulc (EKS) Methods," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 49(4), pages 491-511, December.
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