What Determines Productivity?

60 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2010 Last revised: 8 Jun 2022

See all articles by Chad Syverson

Chad Syverson

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2010

Abstract

Economists have shown that large and persistent differences in productivity levels across businesses are ubiquitous. This finding has shaped research agendas in a number of fields, including (but not limited to) macroeconomics, industrial organization, labor, and trade. This paper surveys and evaluates recent empirical work addressing the question of why businesses differ in their measured productivity levels. The causes are manifold, and differ depending on the particular setting. They include elements sourced in production practices--and therefore over which producers have some direct control, at least in theory--as well as from producers' external operating environments. After evaluating the current state of knowledge, I lay out what I see are the major questions that research in the area should address going forward.

Suggested Citation

Syverson, Chad, What Determines Productivity? (January 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15712, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1544762

Chad Syverson (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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