The Industry Anatomy of the Transatlantic Productivity Growth Slowdown

63 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019 Last revised: 25 Sep 2021

See all articles by Robert J. Gordon

Robert J. Gordon

Northwestern University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Hassan Sayed

Northwestern University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

By merging KLEMS data sets and aggregating over the ten largest Western European nations (EU-10), we are able to compare and contrast productivity growth up through 2015 starting from 1950 in the U.S. and from 1972 in the EU-10. Data are provided at the aggregate level, as well as for 16 industry groups within the total economy and 11 manufacturing sub-industries. The analysis focuses on outcomes over four time intervals: 1950-72, 1972-95, 1995-2005, and 2005-15. We interpret the EU-10 performance as catching up to the U.S. in stages, with its rapid growth of 1950-72 representing a delayed adoption of the inventions that propelled U.S. productivity growth in the first half of the 20th century, and the next EU-10 stage for 1972-95 as imitating the U.S. outcome for 1950-72. We show that both the pace of aggregate productivity growth during 1972-95 for the EU-10 as well as its industrial composition matched very closely the growth record of the U.S. in the previous 1950-72 time interval.A striking finding is that for the total economy the “early-to-late” productivity growth slowdown from 1972-95 to 2005-15 in the EU-10 (-1.68 percentage points) was almost identical to the U.S. slowdown from 1950-72 to 2005-15 (-1.67 percentage points). There is a very high EU-U.S. correlation in the magnitude of the early-to-late slowdown across industries. This supports our overall theme that the productivity growth slowdown from the early postwar years to the most recent decade was due to a retardation in technical change that affected the same industries by roughly the same magnitudes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Robert J. and Sayed, Hassan, The Industry Anatomy of the Transatlantic Productivity Growth Slowdown (March 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25703, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3363439

Robert J. Gordon (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-3616 (Phone)
847-491-5427 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/economics/g

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Hassan Sayed

Northwestern University ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
23
Abstract Views
241
PlumX Metrics