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The World's Productivity Performance: How do Countries Compare?

Conference presentation

The paper, The World’s Productivity Performance: How do Countries Compare?, was presented by Bart van Ark (University of Groningen and The Conference Board), at the Productivity Perspectives 2006 conference.


This paper deals with world-wide economic developments from the perspective of productivity, competitiveness and employment creation. The reasons for the acceleration of productivity growth in the U.S. and several other advanced countries, as well as the substantial slowdown in most European countries, provide a particular focus. The paper also looks at changes in competitive forces between the U.S., Western Europe, the Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, China and other Asian countries.

Following a macroeconomic comparison of productivity and employment performance for over 100 countries in the world economy, the paper focuses on the sources of difference in labour productivity growth, with particular attention on the contribution of ICT. The second part of the paper examines sectoral and industry level performance, and highlights the contribution of services productivity growth to major advanced and emerging economies. Next the paper addresses the issue of competitiveness with unit labour cost comparisons for manufacturing sectors in China, India, Mexico, Central and East European countries and major advanced economies. Finally, the author discusses the implications of this productivity analysis for the economic reform agendas in various countries.

Associated material

The World’s Productivity Performance: How do Countries Compare?
Slide Presentation PDF 0.2 MB
Slide Presentation PPT 0.4 MB

World Labor Productivity (growth rates, 1995-2004; level as % of US, 2004)
Table PDF 0.1 MB
Table RTF 0.1 MB

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