During the 1990s, labor productivity appears to have accelerated in the United States and slowed in other major industrialized countries. While hourly productivity gains were previously weaker in the United States than in other countries, they have become stronger there.
The characterization of these recent fluctuations and their causes is useful for many analyzes of growth prospects or inflationary pressures in industrialized countries.
The seminars held aimed to compare the diagnoses of differences. It offers a close look at productivity growth between the United States and other industrialized countries. This seminar brought together nearly forty European, American, and Japanese economists. Twelve studies were presented and discussed.
The discussions centered around four themes. The first theme is changes in productivity trends over time. First of all, the participants tried to identify the methodological difficulties and statistical problems posed by the productivity measurement and cross-country comparisons that could be made in this area.
Three other themes were then addressed:
- the role of various factors of production, particularly information and telecommunication technologies (ICT), in these developments;
- international comparisons of the sources of differences between countries and
- research on the determinants of productivity gains.
Measurement issues and certain diagnostic items turned out to look pretty solid. Therefore, in most countries, the share of productivity growth due to ICT production is quite comparable.
On the other hand, productivity in other sectors accelerated in the United States during the 1990s and slowed elsewhere.
The acceleration in hourly productivity in the United States has contributed to the substitution of ICT capital for the workforce. At the same time, it gained a faster improvement in total factor productivity.
The slowdown in productivity in other industrialized countries has led to the substitution of non-ICT capital for labor at rates specific to each economy. This can be attributed to the decline in the quality of labor.
These two negative factors are slightly compensated by an acceleration. Replacing labor by ICT capital and accelerating TFP will be the solution. It is necessary to explain the extent to which non-ICT capital has slowed down. It should be aimed to extend the growth beyond the accounting breakdown.
The slowdown in job quality is not due, in part, to the expansion of these employment policies. It can also be associated with job creation dynamics with lower-than-average productivity.
Finally, the delay in the spread of ICT in Europe and Japan versus the United States is based on a large number of observations. But, it has not yet received a statistically sound explanation.
Uncertainties of efficiency measurement are eliminated. The researchers emphasize that methodological differences persist between Europe and the United States.
He stresses, however, that they do not interrupt Europe’s catch-up with American productivity.
Among the differences in the resolution process, the measurement of GDP leads to a different split between end uses for military spending, financial services and software spending.
These three gaps contribute to raising US GDP relative to the GDP of the European Union; its effect in terms of productivity increase is weaker and more definite.
In addition, deflators in Europe are calculated, which have limited results on changes in dissolution and productivity. It mobilizes hedonic approaches and chain indices to varying degrees that are used more systematically in the United States.
In the United States, productivity growth is present in the valuation method of financial and non-market services. It is incorrect to measure the labor factor by the total number of hours worked adjusted for the quality of work. It poses more problems with the quality of the underlying data than with the method.