Computers and Productivity in France: Some Evidence
56 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2000 Last revised: 21 Mar 2010
Date Written: November 1996
In this paper, we make a first attempt to explore the relationship between computer use and productivity in French manufacturing and services industries. We match information on computer utilization in the work place collected at the employee level in the years 1987, 1991 and 1993, with information on firm productivity, capital intensity and average wage available at the firm level. Being based on the answers of very few interviewed employees (only one for 75% of the firms in our samples), our measure of firm computer use is subject to important sampling errors, and hence our estimates of computer impacts are largely affected by random errors in variables downward biases. Nonetheless we find coherent and persuasive evidence that the computer impacts on productivity are indeed positive and that the returns to the firm should at least be in the same range as the returns to the other types of capital. We also show that the sampling errors in measurement biases can be assessed, and we make the general point that econometric studies of the firm can be effectively and substantially enriched by using information collected from workers, even if very few of them are surveyed per firm.
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