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The returns to scale effect in labour productivity growth

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  • Mizobuchi, Hideyuki

Abstract

Labour productivity is defined as output per unit of labour input. Economists acknowledge that technical progress as well as growth in capital inputs increases labour productivity. However, little attention has been paid to the fact that changes in labour input alone could also impact labour productivity. Since this effect disappears for the constant returns to scale short-run production frontier, we call it the returns to scale effect. We decompose the growth in labour productivity into two components: 1) the joint effect of technical progress and capital input growth, and 2) the returns to scale effect. We propose theoretical measures for these two components and show that they coincide with the index number formulae consisting of prices and quantities of inputs and outputs. We then apply the results of our decomposition to U.S. industry data for 1987–2007. It is acknowledged that labour productivity in the services industries grows much more slowly than in the goods industries. We conclude that the returns to scale effect can explain a large part of the gap in labour productivity growth between the two industry groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Mizobuchi, Hideyuki, 2011. "The returns to scale effect in labour productivity growth," MPRA Paper 31152, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:31152
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/31152/1/MPRA_paper_31152.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles I. Jones, 2002. "Sources of U.S. Economic Growth in a World of Ideas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 220-239, March.
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    4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    5. Nemoto, Jiro & Goto, Mika, 2005. "Productivity, efficiency, scale economies and technical change: A new decomposition analysis of TFP applied to the Japanese prefectures," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 617-634, December.
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    7. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: U.S. Economic Growth in the Information Age," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 125-236.
    8. Bert Balk, 2001. "Scale Efficiency and Productivity Change," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 159-183, May.
    9. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "The Economic Theory of Index Numbers and the Measurement of Input, Output, and Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1393-1414, November.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labour productivity; index numbers; Malmquist index; Törnqvist index; output distance function; input distance function;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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