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Computers and Productivity in France: Some Evidence

  • Nathalie Greenan
  • Jacques Mairesse

In this paper, we make a first attempt to explore the relationship between computer use and productivity in French manufacturing and services industries. We match information on computer utilization in the work place collected at the employee level in the years 1987, 1991 and 1993, with information on firm productivity, capital intensity and average wage available at the firm level. Being based on the answers of very few interviewed employees (only one for 75% of the firms in our samples), our measure of firm computer use is subject to important sampling errors, and hence our estimates of computer impacts are largely affected by random errors in variables downward biases. Nonetheless we find coherent and persuasive evidence that the computer impacts on productivity are indeed positive and that the returns to the firm should at least be in the same range as the returns to the other types of capital. We also show that the sampling errors in measurement biases can be assessed, and we make the general point that econometric studies of the firm can be effectively and substantially enriched by using information collected from workers, even if very few of them are surveyed per firm.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5836.

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Date of creation: Nov 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Greenan, Nathalie and Jacques Mairesse. "Computers and Productivity in France: Some Evidence." Economics of Innovation and New Technology 9, 3 (2000): 275-315.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5836
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  1. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995. "Production Functions: The Search for Identification," NBER Working Papers 5067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Gourieroux,Christian & Monfort,Alain, 1995. "Statistics and Econometric Models," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521471626, October.
  4. Nathalie Greenan & Dominique Guellec, 1994. "Organisation du travail, technologie et performances : une étude empirique," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 113(2), pages 39-56.
  5. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1981. "Productivity and R and D at the Firm Level," NBER Working Papers 0826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin Hitt, 1997. "Information Technology as a Factor of Production: The Role of Differences Among Firms," Working Paper Series 201, MIT Center for Coordination Science.
  7. Frank R. Lichtenberg, 1993. "The Output Contributions of Computer Equipment and Personnel: A Firm- Level Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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