Productivity and Innovation

Michel Serafinelli, 17 October 2017

The productivity benefits of similar firms locating near one another are well accepted, but there is little agreement on how knowledge spillovers have local effects. This column presents evidence from Italy of how firm-to-firm labour mobility enhances the productivity of firms located near other, highly productive firms. The main finding is that the recruitment of workers with experience at good firms significantly increases the productivity of the firms hiring them.

Jörg Mayer, 11 October 2017

Most of the current debate on the threat of robots focuses on developed countries, but robotisation clearly also concerns developing countries. This column examines whether robots will reduce the familiar benefits of industrialisation as a development strategy. It argues that robots are not yet suitable for a range of labour-intensive industries, leaving the door open for developing countries to enter industrialisation processes along traditional lines. At the same time, it suggests ways that developing countries should embrace the digital revolution.

Klaus Adam, Henning Weber, 26 September 2017

The productivity of many firms evolves over time, which impacts the optimal inflation rate, that is, the rate of price increase with the least distortionary effect on relative goods prices. This column presents estimates for the US that suggest that, due to firm-level productivity changes, the optimal inflation rate has dropped from somewhat over 2% in the mid-1980s to a current level of roughly 1%.

Nicholas Bloom, Chad Jones, John Van Reenen, Michael Webb, 20 September 2017

The rate of productivity growth in advanced economies has been falling. Optimists hope for a fourth industrial revolution, while pessimists lament that most potential productivity growth has already occurred. This column argues that data on the research effort across all industries shows the costs of extracting ideas have increased sharply over time. This suggests that unless research inputs are continuously raised, economic growth will continue to slow in advanced nations.

Wolfgang Dauth, Sebastian Findeisen, Jens Südekum, Nicole Woessner, 19 September 2017

Recent research has shown that industrial robots have caused severe job and earnings losses in the US. This column explores the impact of robots on the labour market in Germany, which has many more robots than the US and a much larger manufacturing employment share. Robots have had no aggregate effect on German employment, and robot exposure is found to actually increase the chances of workers staying with their original employer. This effect seems to be largely down to efforts of work councils and labour unions, but is also the result of fewer young workers entering manufacturing careers.

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