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Relative Prices and Sectoral Productivity

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  • Margarida Duarte
  • Diego Restuccia

Abstract

The relative price of services rises with development. A standard interpretation of this fact is that productivity differences across countries are larger in manufacturing than in services. The service sector comprises heterogeneous categories. We document that many disaggregated service categories–such as transportation, communication, and finance–feature a negative income elasticity of relative prices, whereas the relative price of aggregate services is mostly driven by large expenditure categories in housing, collective government, and health that feature a positive income elasticity of relative prices. We also document a substantial reallocation of expenditures in services from categories with positive income elasticities (traditional services) to categories with negative elasticities (non-traditional services) as income rises. Using an otherwise standard multi-sector development accounting framework extended to include an input-output structure, we find that the cross-country income elasticity of sectoral productivity is large in non-traditional services (1.15), smaller in manufacturing (1.05) and much smaller in traditional services (0.67). Eliminating cross-country productivity differences in non-traditional services reduces aggregate income disparity by 58 percent, a 7.9-fold reduction in aggregate productivity differences. We also find that the heterogeneity between traditional and non-traditional services has a substantial impact on aggregate productivity and that the input-output structure is important in this assessment.

Suggested Citation

  • Margarida Duarte & Diego Restuccia, 2017. "Relative Prices and Sectoral Productivity," NBER Working Papers 23979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23979
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    Cited by:

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    3. Roth, Felix & Sen, Ali & Rammer, Christian, 2021. "Intangible Capital and Firm-Level Productivity – Evidence from Germany," Hamburg Discussion Papers in International Economics 9, University of Hamburg, Chair of International Economics.
    4. Murat Ungor, 2017. "Productivity Growth and Labor Reallocation: Latin America versus East Asia," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 24, pages 25-42, March.
    5. Bento, Pedro & Restuccia, Diego, 2021. "On average establishment size across sectors and countries," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 220-242.
    6. Duarte, Margarida, 2020. "Manufacturing consumption, relative prices, and productivity," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    7. Zsofia Barany & Christian Siegel, 2021. "Engines of sectoral labor productivity growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 39, pages 304-343, January.
    8. Sen, Ali, 2020. "Structural change within the services sector, Baumol's cost disease, and cross-country productivity differences," MPRA Paper 99614, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Murat Üngör, 2016. "Did the rising importance of services decelerate overall productivity improvement of Turkey during 2002–2007?," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 238-261, July.
    10. Alessio Moro & Omar Rachedi, 2018. "The changing structure of goverment consumption spending," Working Papers 1840, Banco de España.
    11. Gillman, Max, 2021. "Steps in industrial development through human capital deepening," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 99(C).
    12. Moro, Alessio & Rachedi, Omar, 2018. "The Changing Structure of Government Spending," MPRA Paper 86577, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Miklós Koren & Rita Pető, 2020. "Business disruptions from social distancing," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(9), pages 1-14, September.
    14. Bento, Pedro & Ranasinghe, Ashantha, 2020. "Financial Frictions, Borrowing Costs, and Firm Size Across Sectors," Working Papers 2020-7, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    15. Vasconcelos, Rafael da Silva, 2017. "Misallocation in the Brazilian Manufacturing Sector," Brazilian Review of Econometrics, Sociedade Brasileira de Econometria - SBE, vol. 37(2), November.
    16. Calin Arcalean & Gerhard Glomm & Ioana Cosmina Schiopu, 2019. "Urbanization, productivity differences and spatial frictions," CESifo Working Paper Series 7609, CESifo.
    17. Rivera-Padilla, Alberto, 2020. "Crop choice, trade costs, and agricultural productivity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
    18. Urzúa, Carlos M., 2020. "The Balassa-Samuelson and the capital-intensity hypotheses in a nutshell," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(4), pages 336-343.
    19. Berthold Herrendorf & Todd Schoellman, 2018. "Wages, Human Capital, and Barriers to Structural Transformation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 1-23, April.
    20. Julio Leal, 2018. "Key sectors in Mexico's economic development: a perspective from input-output linkages with sector-specific distortions," 2018 Meeting Papers 571, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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