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

Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 17 July 2007

It has taken a long time to confirm that computers boost productivity. The key seems to lie in management and internal organisation. That’s why IT has helped US firms so much more than their European counterparts.

Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 12 July 2007

US firms typically have better management practices than their European counterparts. This ‘management gap’ has a direct impact on productivity differences. Policies on competition, labour market flexibility and education are key to closing the gap.

Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 13 May 2007

The US has experienced a sustained increase in productivity growth since the mid-1990s which has not been mirrored in Europe. The majority of this growth has occurred in sectors that either intensively use or produce IT, but while the IT-producing sectors in Europe have matched the growth of their US counterparts, the IT-using sectors (particularly retail, wholesale and financial services) have not.

Shang-Jin Wei, 16 June 2007

Data on 12,400 firms in 120 Chinese cities show that state-owned firms have lower marginal returns to capital than private or foreign firms. This inefficiency costs China 5% of its GDP and suggests there would be big gains to further financial and corporate-governance reforms.

Neil Gandal, Charles King, Marshall Van Alstyne, 23 April 2007

There has already been evidence suggesting that information technology (IT) makes significant contributions to productivity; the authors of CEPR DP 6260 explore its impact on individual users in a white-collar setting.

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