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Estimation of Cross-Country Differences in Industry

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  • James Harrigan

Abstract

Many economists and policy makers are concerned about international differences in technology and labor quality, correctly seeing these issues as crucial to long term growth in living standards. Typically, international trade economists assume that technological knowledge is the same in all countries, and that production processes exhibit constant returns to scale. An equivalent way of stating this assumption is that total factor productivity (TFP) for each industry is the same in every country. This paper is a contribution to a growing body of work which casts doubt on this hypothesis, finding large and persistent TFP differences across countries. The paper uses a new data set on prices, inputs, and outputs for a group of industrialized countries in the 1980s. In addition to calculating industry-specific TFP indexes over time and across countries, the paper uses panel data econometric techniques to examine the sources of the observed large TFP differences across countries. Two hypotheses are examined to account for TFP differences: constant returns to scale production with country-specific technological differences economies with identical technology in each country. The data support the constant returns/different technology hypothesis over the increasing returns/same technology hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • James Harrigan, 1997. "Estimation of Cross-Country Differences in Industry," NBER Working Papers 6121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6121
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6121.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bernard, Andrew B & Jones, Charles I, 1996. "Productivity across Industries and Countries: Time Series Theory and Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 135-146, February.
    2. Harrigan, James, 1997. "Technology, Factor Supplies, and International Specialization: Estimating the Neoclassical Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 475-494, September.
    3. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "International Factor Price Differences: Leontief Was Right!," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 961-987, December.
    4. Brown, Drusilla K., 1991. "Tariffs and capacity utilization by monopolistically competitive firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3-4), pages 371-381, May.
    5. Chambers,Robert G., 1988. "Applied Production Analysis," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521314275, August.
    6. Keith E. Maskus, 1991. "Comparing International Trade Data and Product and National Characteristics Data for the Analysis of Trade Models," NBER Chapters,in: International Economic Transactions: Issues in Measurement and Empirical Research, pages 17-60 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-1046, December.
    8. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "Multilateral Comparisons of Output, Input, and Productivity Using Superlative Index Numbers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(365), pages 73-86, March.
    9. Costello, Donna M, 1993. "A Cross-Country, Cross-Industry Comparison of Productivity Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 207-222, April.
    10. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
    11. Bernard, Andrew B & Jones, Charles I, 1996. "Comparing Apples to Oranges: Productivity Convergence and Measurement across Industries and Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1216-1238, December.
    12. Hooper, Peter & Larin, Kathryn A, 1989. "International Comparisons of Labor Costs in Manufacturing," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 35(4), pages 335-355, December.
    13. repec:fth:harver:1487 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Diewert, W E, 1992. "The Measurement of Productivity," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 163-198, July.
    15. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
    16. James Harrigan, 1997. "Cross-country comparisons of industry total factor productivity: theory and evidence," Research Paper 9734, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    17. repec:mes:challe:v:31:y:1988:i:4:p:56-58 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan E. Haskel & Matthew J. Slaughter, 1998. "Does the Sector Bias of Skill-Biased Technical Change Explain Changing Wage Inequality?," NBER Working Papers 6565, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Javier Andrés & José E. Boscá, 2000. "Technological differences and convergence in the OECD," Spanish Economic Review, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 11-27.
    3. MG. Ladu, 2006. "Total Factor Productivity Estimates: Some Evidence from European Regions," Working Paper CRENoS 200606, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    4. MG. Ladu, 2005. "Total Factor Productivity Growth and Employment: A Simultaneous Equations Model Estimate," Working Paper CRENoS 200506, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    5. Dumont, Michel, 2004. "The Impact of International Trade with Newly Industrialised Countries on the Wages and Employment of Low-Skilled and High-Skilled Workers in the European Union," MPRA Paper 83525, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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