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Productivity Trends in the Construction Sector in Canada: A Case of Lagging Technical Progress


  • Centre for the Study of Living Standards



Both labour and total factor productivity growth in the total and residential construction sectors in Canada have been negative over the past two decades. This report provides a detailed examination of output, employment, and productivity trends in the construction sector in Canada and by province, with particular attention to the residential construction sector. It puts forth a number of variables to explain these trends and tests these explanations in a regression model. In addition, the report looks at other potential explanatory factors for which time series are not available, with particular reference to measurement issues and technical change; discusses the micro- and macro-economic environment affecting productivity performance in the construction sector; examines the prospects for productivity growth in the construction sector; and makes a number of recommendations for future work. The major conclusion is that lagging technical progress appears to lie at the root of the construction sector’s poor productivity performance. In addition, measurement problems have also likely contributed to the poor measured productivity performance in the sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Centre for the Study of Living Standards, 2001. "Productivity Trends in the Construction Sector in Canada: A Case of Lagging Technical Progress," CSLS Research Reports 01cp, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  • Handle: RePEc:sls:resrep:01cp

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Allen, Steven G, 1985. "Why Construction Industry Productivity Is Declining," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(4), pages 661-669, November.
    2. Martin Neil Baily & Robert M. Solow, 2001. "International Productivity Comparisons Built from the Firm Level," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 151-172, Summer.
    3. Richard G. Lipsey & Kenneth Carlaw, 2000. "What Does Total Factor Productivity Measure?," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 1, pages 31-40, Fall.
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    More about this item


    Canada; Construction; Construction Industry; Productivity; Productivity Growth; Measurement Error; Output Measurement; Technology; Innovation; Residential Construction; Housing;

    JEL classification:

    • L74 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Construction
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D


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