Francesco Caselli, Antonio Ciccone, 09 June 2018

Contributions to the development accounting literature suggest that human capital plays only a modest role in explaining the large income gaps across the world. This column reviews some of these studies to assess the impact of the relative efficiency and relative supply of high- versus low-skilled workers in labour markets. It concludes that differences in skill premia across countries are not due to differences in human capital embodied in skilled workers, but rather to differences in country-specific technological and institutional environments.

Alejandro Cuñat, Robert Zymek, 15 October 2017

A large portion of international income differences remains poorly understood. It is traditionally attributed to cross-country differences in total factor productivity, which cannot be measured directly. This column argues that the importance of total factor productivity has been overstated because differences in countries’ patterns of international linkages have been overlooked. Using input-output data for 40 countries, it shows how the assumption that economies are closed has led traditional development accounting to overestimate total factor productivity.

Alexander Bick, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, David Lagakos, 04 June 2016

The development accounting literature tries to account for cross-country output per worker differences by taking stock of inputs per worker. The data employed are often measured without great precision, however, making comparisons difficult. This column presents a new, internationally comparable dataset of average hours worked per adult across the world income distribution. Adults in poor countries are found to work a lot more and with lower productivity than those in rich countries. The findings suggest that those from poorer countries are not only ‘consumption poor’, but also ‘leisure poor’. 

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