Serguey Braguinsky, Lee Branstetter, André Regateiro, 10 September 2011

Portugal was the third member to join the unenviable club of bailed-out Eurozone countries. This column explores one of the central weaknesses of the Portuguese economy – its low productivity. It finds that this is in part the result of the shrinking size of Portugal’s companies, which is in turn caused by distortions in its labour market that need to be fixed.

Uri Dadush, William Shaw, 28 June 2011

American policy discourse is notoriously preoccupied with the country's loss of competitiveness. This column argues that these fears are misplaced. Instead, faulty fiscal policies are to blame for the perception that the US has lost its edge.

Nicholas Crafts, 05 June 2011

Britain’s relative economic decline throughout the 20th century – the so-called “British disease” – was a national embarrassment that only went away in the 1980s. This column presents new research showing that competition provided the cure. Only when Britain returned to a regime of competition and openness similar to that which had prevailed before World War I did productivity growth resume.

Anne Murphy, 22 May 2011

Working 9 to 5, Monday to Friday is the typical grind in Anglo-Saxon economies. In some professions, longer hours and low pay for junior workers is justified by the end reward of much better pay and a better work-life balance as they gain seniority. This column examines the workings of the Bank of England in 1783 to show the beginnings of this working culture.

Ann Harrison, Leslie Martin, Shanthi Nataraj, 22 March 2011

It is broadly agreed that trade liberalisation can increase productivity. The question is how. Earlier literature emphasises the role of firms “learning” to be more productive, whereas recent studies suggest that more productive firms are “stealing” market share from less productive ones, thus raising overall productivity. Presenting evidence from India’s trade liberalisation since 1991, this column finds evidence for both but argues that learning outweighs stealing.

Nicholas Bloom, Mirko Draca, John Van Reenen, 03 February 2011

Chinese exports are often blamed for job losses and firm closures in developed economies. This column tracks the performance of more than half a million manufacturing firms in 12 European countries over the past decade. It finds that competition with Chinese exports is directly responsible for around 15% of technical change and an annual benefit of almost €10 billion in these countries – the wider productivity effects may well be larger.

Jan Luiten van Zanden, 26 January 2011

China has been one of the world’s most dynamic economies in recent decades, but how did it fall so far behind? This column argues that the industrial revolution occurred in Europe rather than China because European entrepreneurs were eager to adopt machines to cut down on high labour costs. China didn’t “miss” the industrial revolution – it didn’t need it.

Nicholas Bloom, Rebecca Homkes, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 17 December 2010

Governments globally face a healthcare bill of around $7 trillion – and set to rise. This column argues that the need to focus on productivity has never been greater. With data from 1,200 hospitals across seven of the world’s wealthiest countries, it suggests that improvements in hospital management practices can help bring about improvements in hospital productivity as well.

Donato De Rosa, Nishaal Gooroochurn, Holger Görg, 30 August 2010

Does it pay to be corrupt? This column presents evidence from 22 emerging economies in Europe and the former Soviet Union on the effects of corruption on firm productivity. It finds that in a highly corrupt country, bribing officials actually has a negative effect on productivity, whereas in countries with strong institutions, it can open doors that competitors dare not touch.

Daniel Sgroi, 26 July 2010

Happiness economics typically looks at how macro-level variables such as economic growth affect happiness. This column turns such thinking on its head and asks whether a rise in happiness might change behaviour at the micro-level, looking specifically at productivity. Experiments suggest that happiness raises productivity by increase workers' effort. Economists may need to take the emotional state of economic agents seriously.

Ann Harrison, Andres Rodríguez-Clare, 27 June 2010

Does industrial policy – policies to encourage exports, attract foreign direct investment, promote innovation, and pick winners – work? This column recommends developing countries pursue “soft” industrial policies, which aim to develop a process whereby government, industry, and cluster-level private organisations can collaborate on interventions that can directly increase productivity.

Chad Syverson, 25 June 2010

This column summarises a wealth of literature that tries to understand what determines productivity, which is often referred to as a measure of our ignorance. It concludes with a call for more data – including currently unmeasured aspects of business’s production practices such as producer-level prices. While collecting more data is costly, this column argues that there is much to be gained in exchange.

Jan van Ours, 05 March 2010

Ageing populations are a concern for many developed countries, with increasing dependence on the working population expected. Despite this, there is relatively little research on how productivity changes with age. This column argues that while older people do not run as fast, there is no evidence of a mental productivity decline and little evidence of an increasing pay-productivity gap. The negative effects of ageing on productivity should not be exaggerated.

Marco Leonardi, Giovanni Pica, Julián Messina, 04 March 2010

How do financial crises alter the effects of employment protection legislation? This column argues that firms with insufficient access to credit are even less able to rationalise their costs by switching from labour to capital – reinforcing the negative effects on productivity. But policymakers should also consider that, in countries with less-developed financial markets, employment protection provides insurance against labour-market risk.

David Audretsch, 22 August 2008

David Audretsch of the Max Planck Institute of Economics and Indiana University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research programme on entrepreneurship – the key institutional drivers and constraints; the impact of globalisation and new technology; the links to growth and competitiveness; and the public policy issues. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in New Orleans in January 2008.

Alexander Hijzen, 04 August 2008

Multinational enterprises’ foreign labour practices frequently come under fire. This column presents new evidence on how foreign takeovers affect workers’ wages and non-wage working conditions. The results suggest foreign investment is worth encouraging.

Farid Toubal, Fabrice Defever, 26 July 2008

Outsourcing has been much discussed in terms of its impacts on employment and growth. But how, why, and where do firms outsource parts of their production? This column presents empirical evidence that tests theoretical models of global sourcing

Philippe Martin, Thierry Mayer, Florian Mayneris, 16 June 2008

The analysis of agglomeration economies focuses around two separate important questions: how large the gains from agglomeration are and how much firms internalize these gains when deciding where to locate. In order to provide answers, the authors of CEPR DP6858 focus on agglomeration externalities and distinguish between urbanization economies, which refer to the cross fertilization of different industries on a given territory and localization economies, which group the concepts of externalities on inputs market, on the labour market and knowledge.

Rachel Griffith, Heike Harmgart, 03 April 2008

The UK retail sector’s performance has been disappointing compared to the United States, where significant productivity gains are attributed to greater dynamism. A number of analysts have blamed the UK’s woes on planning regulation and urged liberalisation. But the evidence presented in this column shows that the impact of planning regulation is overstated.

Michael Burda, 23 July 2007

Germany has finally gotten aboard the train of labour market, supply-side oriented reforms initiated by Europe’s success stories -- Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, and the UK. Italy and France would do well to follow suit

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