Uncovering Some Causal Relationships between Productivity Growth and the Structure of Economic Fluctuations: A Tentative Survey

34 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2000 Last revised: 29 Jan 2015

See all articles by Philippe Aghion

Philippe Aghion

College de France and London School of Economics and Political Science, Fellow; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Gilles Saint-Paul

University of Toulouse I - GREMAQ-IDEI; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: December 1993

Abstract

This paper discusses recent theoretical and empirical work on the interactions between growth and business cycles. One may distinguish two very different types of approaches to the problem of the influence of macroeconomic fluctuations on long-run growth. In the first type of approach, which relies on learning by doing mechanisms or aggregate demand externalities, productivity growth and direct production activities are complements. An expansion therefore has a positive long-run effect on total factor productivity. In the second type of approach, hereafter labeled 'opportunity cost or 'learning-by-doing', productivity growth and production activities are substitutes. The opportunity cost of some productivity improving activities falls in a recession, which has a long-run positive impact on output. This does not mean, however, that recessions should on average last longer or be more frequent, since the expectation of future recessions reduces today's incentives for productivity growth. We also briefly discuss some empirical work which is mildly supportive of the opportunity cost approach, while showing that it can be reconciled with the observed pro-cyclical behavior of measured total factor productivity. We also describe some theoretical work on the effects of growth on business cycles.

Suggested Citation

Aghion, Philippe and Saint-Paul, Gilles, Uncovering Some Causal Relationships between Productivity Growth and the Structure of Economic Fluctuations: A Tentative Survey (December 1993). NBER Working Paper No. w4603. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=253135

Philippe Aghion (Contact Author)

College de France and London School of Economics and Political Science, Fellow ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Gilles Saint-Paul

University of Toulouse I - GREMAQ-IDEI ( email )

Manufacture des Tabacs
21 Allees de Brienne
Toulouse, 31000
France
+33 5 6112 8544 (Phone)
+33 5 6122 5563 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
32
Abstract Views
1,375
PlumX Metrics