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  • Print publication year: 1989
  • Online publication date: March 2012

6 - Economic growth and productivity in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan in the post-war period

Summary

This is a brief summary of a long report on the rates of growth of outputs, inputs, and factor productivities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan in the post-war period, for the countries as a whole and for major economic sectors. Like many empirical studies, this paper shows numerous scars from battling statistical data: frequent use of the “n.a.” abbreviation, insufficient disaggregation (particularly for Germany), heavy reliance on ingenuity in bridging statistical gaps, and finally a rather weak conceptual framework chosen under duress. For all these reasons, the reader is urged to take our findings with a good dose of salt. Space does not permit us to discuss the numerous qualifications, sources, and statistical procedures.

Since there exists a large literature on the methodology of such studies, we can be brief here. On the whole, we have used the Kendrick method in obtaining what he calls the “Index of Total Factor Productivity” and what is called here the “Residual,” as well as in measuring specific factor productivities, with the following major modifications: (1) the outputs (in their several variants) are expressed gross rather than net of depreciation; (2) labor input is aggregated without being weighted by the average wage of each industry, as Kendrick did; (3) imports (when present) are treated as inputs. Much as we wanted to deviate from Kendrick and to include materials among the inputs (in the several sectors), lack of data forced us to follow him in subtracting material inputs from both sides of the production equation and to express output as value added (in constant prices).