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Towards Building A New Consensus About New Zealand’s Productivity

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  • W A Razzak

    (Labour Market Policy Group)

Abstract

There is a wide consensus that New Zealand’s productivity has been poor despite the comprehensive market-oriented reforms of the 1980’s. This consensus is based on estimates of New Zealand’s productivity growth measured either in terms of GDP per capita or total factor productivity (TFP). TFP is typically computed using growth accounting (i.e., calibrating a Solow model with fixed capital share). We argue that identification of the nature of the trend and the method of estimation are important elements of any study of productivity growth. Although difficult, it is quite important to determine whether the trend is linear deterministic or stochastic. It is equally important to measure the trend and TFP growth when there is a structural change (the reform in 1984 and the following adjustment periods) because factor shares, which are coefficients in the production function, are unstable. New Zealand data are short and undoubtedly badly measured and estimates of the standard errors of factor shares are quite large. Thus, even when we account for structural change, TFP estimate, which depends on the estimate of factor shares, is an unreliable measure of New Zealand’s productivity. There is evidence, both time series and panel data that productivity has improved in the 1990’s and by more than we thought. There is also significant evidence of increasing returns to scales (spillovers), which when ignored understates the estimate of the share of capital. Also, there is evidence of improving convergence of productivity between New Zealand and Australia during the 1990’s. The conclusion has policy implications. We need to re-think and scrutinise the current consensus regarding current estimates before we engage in planning programmes to lift productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • W A Razzak, 2004. "Towards Building A New Consensus About New Zealand’s Productivity," GE, Growth, Math methods 0405002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpge:0405002
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 40
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Weshah A. Razzak & Jason C. Timmins, 2008. "A Macroeconomic Perspective On Skill Shortages And The Skill Premium In New Zealand ," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 74-91, March.
    2. John McMillan, 2004. "Quantifying creative destruction: Entrepreneurship and productivity in New Zealand," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(2), pages 153-173.
    3. Engelbrecht, Hans-Jurgen & Xayavong, Vilaphonh, 2006. "ICT intensity and New Zealand's productivity malaise: Is the glass half empty or half full?," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 24-42, March.
    4. Matthew D Shapiro, 2003. "Has the rate of economic growth changed? Evidence and lessons for public policy," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series DP2003/07, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    5. Melleny Black & Melody Guy & Nathan McLellan, 2003. "Productivity in New Zealand 1988 to 2002," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(1), pages 119-150.
    6. Robin Johnson & W. A. Razzak & Steven Stillman, 2007. "Has New Zealand benefited from its investments in research & development?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(19), pages 2425-2440.
    7. Engelbrecht, Hans-Jurgen & Xayavong, Vilaphonh, 2004. "Information And Communication Technology And New Zealand'S Productivity Malaise: An Industry-Level Study," Discussion Papers 23698, Massey University, Department of Applied and International Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    productivity; TFP; Structural change.;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General

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