The Slowdown in European Productivity Growth: A Tale of Tigers, Tortoises, and Textbook Labor Economics Ian Dew-Becker, NBER and Robert J. Gordon, Northwestern University and NBER NBER Summer Institute Macroeconomics and Productivity Workshop July 20, 2006 The US Accelerates, Europe Decelerates From 1950 to 1995 EU productivity growth was faster than in the US But in the past decade since 1995 we have witnessed An explosion in US productivity growth A slowdown in EU productivity growth equal in size An explosion in research on the US takeoff and but much less research on Europe‟s slowdown The magnitude of the shift EU/US level of labor productivity (ALP) 1979 1995 2004 77% 94% 85% Bringing Together the Two Disparate Literatures Literature #1, why did Europe‟s hours per capita decline (hereafter H/N) High taxes, regulations, high minimum wages Europe made labor expensive Movement up Labor Demand curve => low employment + high ALP Literature #1 misses the turnaround Since 1995 decline in tax rates and employment protection measures Big increase in hours per capita, turnaround in both absolute terms and relative to the US Move back down LD curve Literature #2 on EU-US Productivity Growth Gap Central Focus of Lit #2 on post-1995 turnaround Since 1995 EU H/N has grown faster than US Fully 85% of EU productivity slowdown has its counterpart in a speed-up of EU H/N Europe paid for lower ALP mainly with higher hours rather than less consumption Primary Attention in Lit #2: The US Revival TFP accounts for most of the ALP gap, capital- deepening relatively little ICT production TFP explains a relatively small share of EU- US difference Most of the difference is TFP in ICT-using industries Of these, the most important are: Wholesale trade Retail trade Financial/securities Caveat – Groningen definition of ICT-Use is obsolete, retail is not ICT-intensive (See Stiroh 2006) Textbook Labor Economics 7 6 High-Cost Labor Labor Demand Supply Curve Curve 5 4 (W/P)0 A Real Wage 3 (W/P)1 Low-Cost B Labor Supply Curve 2 1 0 Downward shift in labor -1 supply curve reduces real wage and productivity -2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 N0 N1 Labor Input The Labor Demand Curve 1970-95 EU climbs to the left Hours per capita decline, average labor productivity increases In this sense much of Europe‟s 1970-95 productivity catchup was “artificial,” propelled by policies making labor expensive No busboys, grocery baggers, stores open less, no valets… 1995-2004 EU slides right Hours per capita start increasing while they decline in the US Effects are magnified by slow reaction of capital This Paper: There is Another Half to the Puzzle The EU-US “turnaround” is the 1995-2004 US acceleration minus the EU deceleration About 1/3 of the turnaround represents Europe‟s deceleration, the rest the US acceleration Almost none of the literature on the EU productivity slowdown relates it to the slide down the labor demand curve. Exception: recent paper by Saltari-Travaglini ALP Growth, 1981-2004 3.5 3.0 U.S. Output per Hour E.U. Output Per Hour 2.5 2.0 Percent 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 Output vs. Hours 4 We use a parameter of 1600 rather US Output per Capita than 6400, so we’re picking up business cycle level movements 3 EU-15 Output per Capita 2 1 US Hours per Capita 0 -1 EU-15 Hours per Capita -2 EU-US population growth is fairly constant (~.7%) -3 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 Turnaround in TFP Growth but not Capital 6 5 U.S Capital Input per Capita 4 Percent 3 E.U. Capital Input per Capita 2 E.U. Total Factor Productivity 1 0 U.S. Total Factor Productivity -1 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 6 As in JHS, we know this is mainly due to movements in hours, not capital 5 U.S. Capitital Deepening E.U. Capital Deepening 4 Percent 3 2 Since 2000, productivity is not driven by investment Rather, by TFP growth and hours decline 1 0 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 Defining Tigers and Tortoises, Pop Shares and Private ALP Growth Tigers: Ireland, Finland, Greece Pop Share: 5% ALP 4.79% Middle: Sweden, Austria, UK, Germany, Portugal, France Pop Share: 61% ALP: 2.45% Tortoises: Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy Pop Share: 34% ALP: 0.72% Within EU, big change from homogeneity to heterogeneity Standard deviation of ALP growth rates across 15 countries, 0.80 1979-95 to 1.23 1995-2004. Mainly accounted for by non-ICT TFP Tortoises actually have negative non-ICT TFP growth Spain and Italy are negative overall Where is this coming from? Is it concentrated in one industry like retail or across many industries? No spillover effect from capital deepening to non-ICT TFP growth Comparison of Heterogeneity within Europe and within the United States Use gross state product per employee in the US vs GDP per employee in the EU – thanks, Susanto The three American Tigers are Arizona, Massachusetts, and Oregon Acceleration „80-‟95 vs „95-‟04 was exactly 1.91 in both the EU and US Tigers Comparing eight BEA regions to five large EU nations, US eight regions, 1.77 to 2.77 Big EU countries, 0.0 to 2.10 Initial obvious explanations: automatic fiscal stabilizers in the US, labor mobility Productivity vs. Share Effects in EU-US, 1995-2003 Real estate Manufacturing is nearly as important as retail Share Prod Comm. Serv. Finance Trans. Retail/wholesale Non-durables prod Non-durables share Manufacturing ICT prod Non-ICT share Non-ICT prod Const./utilities ICT share But ICT is tiny Farms/mining Only ~2% hours share -0.7 -0.6 -0.5 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1 0 0.1 0.2 ALP growth multiplied by nominal shares Real Estate U.S. Communications Services Finance E.U. Transportation Retail/Wholesale Manufacturing Construction Utilities US acceleration is widespread, not just in retail and manufacturing. Farms/Mining EU weakness is also widespread -0.2 -0.1 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 Tigers vs. Middle, It’s All Manufacturing Real estate Prod Of the 1.95 percentage point gap, ~3/4 Comm. is due to manufacturing Serv. Finance share Trans. Retail/wholesale Manufacturing Const./utilities Farms/mining -0.4 -0.2 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 Tortoises vs. Middle Real estate Comm. Prod Serv. Share Finance Failure is more widespread. Totally unrelated industries account for the decline Trans. Note that this is largely driven by productivity, not share effects Retail/wholesale Manufacturing Const./utilities Farms/mining -0.7 -0.6 -0.5 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1 0 0.1 Interpreting the Tortoise Problem after 1995 Failure is across the board Consistent with basic theme of paper, that there is a macro cause, a reduction in taxes and in regulations Understanding Share Effects ICT Share higher in US vs EU and also middle vs tortoises Big EU share deficit in retail/wholesale and services, consistent with high tax story Part of Tiger success is moving resources, out of agriculture for Greece and Ireland, into ICT mfg for Ireland and Finland ALP and Simple Labor Economics Y/H is only half the welfare story – H/N tells us the other half Decline in H/N in Europe vs US -- 88% to 74% In 1960, US was lowest; by 2004 it‟s highest Big turnaround after 1995 Growth rate of H/N 1979-95 -0.6% 1995-2004 +0.5% Our current empirical investigation of H/N vs. taxes and regulations is still in its early stages The Tortoises are on a Hours Growth Tear, How Much Due to Taxes? Tortoise growth in H/N was 1.74 percent post 1995, vastly outstripping the US and EU Middle countries But Ireland also grew at 1.8% Reflects massive investment and associated TFP growth Average Tax wedge 45 40 Tortoises 35 Tigers 30 EU-15 Middle US 25 20 Note that the Tortoises are always highest, followed by Middle countries, 15 followed by the Tigers and then the US 10 All countries markedly reduce taxes around 1997 5 0 1960 1963 1966 1969 1972 1975 1978 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 Reactions of Hours to Taxes Regressions of H/N on tax wedge Using H/N is a first approximation, need to study separate effects on E/N and H/E Double-log specification, estimated elasticity of H/N to tax wedge is -0.4 Changes after 1995 don‟t match the tax changes very well, but they go in the right direction Middle countries are the exception While everybody else was increasing H/N, middle countries were working less – counter to tax story Add in reaction of capital to hours In the short run, unit elasticity – i.e. capital moves slowly Long run, zero reaction – capital adjusts We can multiply the labor elasticity (.4) by the reaction of capital to hours (1) by capital‟s share (.33) to get the short run reaction of ALP to a 1% tax shock: .4*1*.33=.132. In other words, a 5% tax increase could be expected to lower short run ALP growth by ~.66%. Conclusion EU productivity growth decline is across-the-board and not concentrated in retail. Durable manufacturing and ICT are culprits Similarly, failing in Tortoises compared to EU average is across the board, with a significant contribution of manufacturing Our bottom line is a mix of exogenous tax effects and exogenous decline in TFP growth Analogies with US 1972-95 slowdown, Europe ran out of ideas What to Remember from this Paper Recent Reports by the OECD and others join together high unemployment and slow productivity growth as part of a general malaise. Our focus is different Labor market and tax reforms have raised hours per capita after three decades of decline. Rising hours per capita and declining growth of output per hour are signs of victory for European labor market reforms, not signs of defeat.
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