Tackling the productivity paradox: The OECD Global Forum on Productivity

Catherine L. Mann, OECD Chief Economist and Head of the Economics Department, and Andrew W. Wyckoff, Director, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation.

Today’s post is also being published on the OECD Insights blog.

The nexus of slowing productivity growth and rising inequality is capturing the attention of policymakers and researchers.  The productivity slowdown, its causes, and the link with inclusiveness will be discussed on 7-8 July in Lisbon at the first Annual Conference of the new Global Forum on Productivity, which was created by the OECD in collaboration with a number of Member and non-Member countries.

The fact that productivity growth is slowing in most countries is a puzzle, often referred to as the “productivity paradox”, because you would expect the opposite to happen during a period like the current one where many new technologies are being introduced, more firms and countries are integrated into global value chains, and workers are more highly educated. The crisis may be part of the explanation, but OECD data show that productivity growth has been slowing since the early 2000s in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, and even longer, since the 1970s, in France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

A recent OECD study on The Future of Productivity argues that the economic forces shaping productivity developments can be better understood by focusing on three types of firms: the globally most productive (“global frontier” firms); the most advanced firms nationally; and those lagging behind. This suggests a more nuanced picture than simply looking at the overall figures. Labour productivity in global frontier firms increased at an average annual rate of 3.5 per cent in the manufacturing sector over the 2000s, compared to 0.5% for non-frontier firms.

prod frontier

This gap in productivity growth between the global frontier and other firms raises questions about the ability of the most advanced firms nationally to adopt new technologies and knowledge developed by the global leaders, and for the firms trailing them at national level to catch up. Speaking at the China Development Forum in March 2016, the OECD Secretary-General put it like this: “It’s clear that the knowledge and technology diffusion “machine” is broken”, and called on governments to implement structural reforms to promote trade, encourage innovation, and boost competition to fix the machine.  At the same time, a new OECD report, The Productivity-Inclusiveness Nexus, looked into the linkage between these productivity patterns and rising inequality identifying a number of factors that underpin both and thus deserve additional research .

Governments are already thinking about these issues. In the US for instance, the February 2015 Economic Report of the President stated that “The ultimate test of an economy’s performance is the well-being of its middle class. This in turn has been shaped by three factors: how pro­ductivity has grown, how income is distributed, and how many people are participating in the labour force”. Other OECD governments have productivity high on their agendas, too. These include Mexico’s seeking to “democratize productivity” through its new National Productivity Council.  Mexico is not alone: Chile’s president Michelle Bachelet has established a “Productivity, growth and innovation agenda.” Improving productivity is seen as the key to future well-being outside the OECD, too, for instance by the Chinese Academy of Sciences: “the real potential for sustaining Chinese growth is in improving productivity.” And the European Commission has advised countries to establish Competitiveness Councils to deal, among other things, with productivity-enhancing policies.

The OECD proposes a three-pronged approach to boosting productivity: help the firms that are the most innovative at a global level and facilitate the diffusion of new technologies and innovations from the global frontier firms to firms at the national frontier; create a market environment where the most productive firms are allowed to thrive, thereby facilitating the more widespread penetration of available technologies and innovations; and improve the matching of skills to jobs to better use the pool of available talent in the economy.

Some will argue that we don’t know how to ensure that all the factors that contribute to productivity growth will work together, Robert Samuelson for example: “There are always rhetorical solutions: more infrastructure spending; better schools; simpler taxes; more research. Though some policies may be desirable, there’s no guarantee they will improve productivity. Influencing productivity is hard because it depends on so much (management and workers, technology, market behaviour, government policies and more).”

Given the complexity of the issues and their interactions, the Global Forum on Productivity will share analysis, data, experience, and ideas among OECD and non-member countries. The Forum is a practical, interactive tool that will be useful for those inside or outside governments seeking answers to three questions:

  • What factors can explain the productivity slowdown?
  • What can countries do to improve future prospects for productivity growth and innovation?
  • What can countries do to improve the design of institutions seeking to promote higher productivity and inclusiveness

At the 2016 meeting of the Global Forum on Productivity around 200 participants from 43 OECD and non-Member countries will look at the role of public policy in stimulating productivity growth; productivity spillovers, diffusion, and public policies; divergence in productivity and implications for inclusion; the link between trade, global value chains and productivity; getting institutions right for productivity-enhancing policies; public sector productivity; and agglomeration economies and productivity (the benefits for firms of being located near each other).

Useful links

The Future of Productivity

Promoting Productivity & Equality: A Twin Challenge

The Productivity-Inclusiveness Nexus

Germany’s economic performance is strong but productivity and investment need a boost

By Andres Fuentes, Head of German Desk, OECD Economics Department

The German economy has steadily recovered from the 2008 global crisis. Thanks to past reforms, the labour market has proved strong and export performance has been impressive. The unemployment rate is now the lowest in the European Union. On the back of rising wages, private household demand has strengthened. Germany has lower income inequality than most OECD countries and scores well in most dimensions of well-being. The recently introduced minimum wage has improved the income situation of many low wage earners.

So economic performance has been excellent. But there is a weak spot: Labour productivity has grown little since the outbreak of the crisis (Figure 1) and is relatively low in the services.


In part this is because business investment has been weak in both physical assets, like machinery, and knowledge based capital (KBC, like intellectual property and software) (Figure 2).

Germany fig 2

Demand is a key determinant of business investment. Weak demand conditions in geographically close export markets and increased uncertainty, notably in the euro area, have been particularly damaging to investment. Policies that improve stability and growth prospects in the euro area would therefore raise German investment and its economic potential. Reinvigorating investment in Germany would also reduce its large current account surplus, and thereby promote more balanced global growth.

Reducing regulatory barriers to competition and market entry stimulates business investment and improves productivity. In Germany investment in KBC is particularly low in the services. Some regulations in professional services and the network industries are too restrictive, and easing them would boost productivity throughout the economy because these services are inputs to downstream economic activities (IWU, 2015). For example, restrictions on advertising and firm ownership should be eased. In broadband networks, technologies which supply the fastest speeds, notably “fibre to the home”, have barely been deployed. This has held back IT investment and the greater use of IT as a productivity generator.

Policies to avoid incumbents’ interests disproportionately affecting the design of regulation can raise innovation and productivity. Germany has made significant improvements to its regulatory policy system, but the administration could focus more strongly on the analysis of the economy-wide impacts of policies, rather than on sector-specific impacts, and on efforts to improve transparency of lobbying.

OECD, Economic Survey of Germany, OECD, April 2016, OECD Publishing.

Institut für Wirtschaftspolitik an der Universität zu Köln (IWU), Der Dienstleistungssektor in Deutschland. Überblick und Deregulierungspotenziale, Otto-Wolff-Discussion Paper, No. 1a/2015.

Boosting Canada’s productivity through greater small business dynamism

By David Carey, Head of Canada Desk, Country Studies Branch, OECD Economics Department

A dynamic small business sector can heighten competition and underpin productivity growth, as discussed in the 2016 OECD Economic Survey of Canada and Carey et al. (2016, forthcoming). Dynamism tends to be reflected in high start-up rates and strong ‘up-or-out’ dynamics. Entry can be viewed as a form of experimentation that introduces new ideas, business models and technologies into the marketplace while exits can be viewed as the end of unsuccessful experiments. High start-up rates increase both the likelihood of radical innovation and competitive pressures on incumbents to innovate. OECD (2015) finds that an increase in the share of firms younger than six years old relative to firms aged 12 years and over is associated with higher multi-factor productivity growth and that this effect is mainly attributable to start-ups.

Firm entry and exit rates (which are highly correlated) have been falling since the early 1980s (Figure 1, Panel A) in Canada as in other countries. Canada’s start-up rate appears to be relatively low by international comparison (Panel B), while the share of older small firms is relatively high (Panel C). The relatively low share of younger SMEs (Panel C) may point to weak dynamism, as it is these firms that contribute disproportionately to job creation, destruction and net employment growth (Figure 2), not SMEs in general.

Carey blog CAN

Canada’s framework policies, such as product and labour market regulation, are generally supportive of small business dynamism. Labour market regulation, in particular, poses few barriers to the reallocation of labour, which is critical for a vibrant small business sector. Likewise, product market regulation generally does not obstruct resource reallocation from less to more efficient firms. An exception is Canada’s relatively high barriers to foreign direct investment. Such barriers inhibit allocative efficiency. Another is its high regulatory protection of incumbents, which arises from an above-average use of anti-trust exemptions.

Small business dynamism and productivity would also benefit from focusing small business programmes more clearly on market failures. The most costly programme is the preferential tax rate for small companies (the Small Business Deduction). It is intended to overcome a capital market failure, which starves SMEs of funding, by leaving beneficiaries with more after-tax profits to invest. However, the economic literature on capital market failures does not establish a case for subsidising SMEs based on their size alone. The 2010 UK Mirrlees Review of taxation concluded that there was no evidence of any general capital market failure affecting small firms but rather of a financing gap for new and start-up firms that could be more effectively addressed through targeted measures (Crawford and Freedman, 2010). Canada’s SME financing programmes should be reviewed to identify clear capital market failures and the best instruments for addressing them. For the preferential federal small company tax rate, this should be done in the recently announced federal tax expenditure review.

The other high-cost measure whose review should be a priority is the higher (refundable) R&D tax credit for small companies than for other companies. It is not clear from the economic literature whether market failures warrant a higher or a lower subsidy rate for SMEs than the standard rate: information failures that make it more difficult for SMEs to obtain external finance for innovation justify a higher rate while lower SME R&D spill-overs point in the opposite direction. To resolve this and other R&D subsidy issues, such as the appropriate balance between direct and indirect support and level for the standard tax credit rate, Canadian governments should evaluate R&D subsidy policies to ensure that they are providing good value for money.

Carey blog CAN2


Carey, D., J. Lester and I. Luong (2016, forthcoming), ‘Boosting Productivity in Canada Through Greater Small Business Dynamism’, OECD Economics Department Working Paper.

Crawford, C. and J. Freedman (2010), “Small Business Taxation”, in J. Mirrlees, S.Adam, T. Besley, R. Blundell, S. Bond, R. Chote, M. Gammie, P. Johnson, G. Myles and J. Poterba (eds), Dimensions of Tax Design: The Mirrlees Review, Oxford: Oxford University Press for Institute for Fiscal Studies. Criscuolo, C., P. Gal and C. Menon (2014), “The Dynamics of Employment Growth: New Evidence from 18 Countries”, OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 14, OECD Publishing, Paris.

The contribution of weak investment to the productivity slowdown

by Yvan Guillemette, OECD Economics Department

Concerns around weak productivity growth are everywhere these days. As the latest OECD Economic Outlook notes, since the mid-2000s, productivity growth has been markedly lower than at any other time since the 1950s. In response, the OECD has just launched the Global Forum on Productivity, an initiative to foster international co-operation between public bodies who promote productivity-enhancing policies. The goal is clear: to kick productivity growth out of the doldrums. In the long run, it drives all gains in living standards. Without it, many countries may not be able to keep the promises embedded in their social programs.

But if we are to boost productivity growth, it would help to understand why it has slowed. Recent OECD work disentangles two overlapping developments (Ollivaud, Guillemette and Turner, 2016). The first is a secular slowdown in total factor productivity growth (the efficiency with which labour and capital inputs are combined in production), which predates the crisis. This trend has continued since, but the reasons behind it are not yet well understood. The second is an abrupt slowdown in investment following the crisis. On average across the OECD and the euro area, trend productivity growth slowed by 0.4 pp per annum between 2007 and 2015, all of which is explained by slower growth in capital per worker. The same is true of most individual OECD countries (see figure).

Change in trend productivity growth between 2007 and 2015

Percentage points per year

cap sstock guilemette

Note: Because the decomposition uses an approximation, a small discrepancy sometimes occurs between the total and the sum of the two contributions.

Why has investment slowed down? A large part of the explanation is simply that weak demand and excess capacity give firms little incentive to invest. Falling investment reduces the amount of capital that workers have to work with, depressing their own productivity and the overall productive capacity of the economy, so-called potential output. The authors calculate that the demand shock associated with the financial crisis may have reduced the aggregate OECD capital stock by about 3¼ per cent and the level of potential output by more than 1% by 2015. The implied reduction in the average growth rate of the capital stock explains about half of the 0.4 pp decline in the contribution from capital deepening to trend productivity growth mentioned above for the OECD area.

Further to the demand effect, capital misallocation during the pre-crisis expansion explains why investment weakness is particularly acute in the countries that saw the biggest investment booms. In addition, many governments have cut public investment in response to deteriorating public finances. Uncertainty, lack of visibility and volatility have added to this unsavoury mix. And to cap it all, the pace of productivity-boosting structural reform has slowed.

High inertia in the capital stock means that the negative effects of the crisis on productivity could last for a while. This realisation adds to the urgency of using all available fiscal space to help stretched monetary policies boost demand, and to redouble efforts on structural reforms.


Ollivaud, P., Y. Guillemette and D. Turner (2016), “Links between weak Investment and the slowdown in productivity and potential output growth across the OECD”, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 1304.

OECD Economic Outlook, June 2016.


Policymakers: Act now to break out of the low-growth trap and deliver on our promises

By Catherine L. Mann, OECD Chief Economist

Policymaking is at an important juncture. Without comprehensive, coherent and collective action, disappointing and sluggish growth will persist, making it increasingly difficult to make good on promises to current and future generations.

Global growth has languished over the past eight years as OECD economies have struggled to average only 2 per cent per year, and emerging markets have slowed, with some falling into deep recession. In this Economic Outlook the global economy is set to grow by only 3.3 per cent in 2017. Continuing the cycle of forecast optimism followed by disappointment, global growth has been marked down, by some 0.3 per cent, for 2016 and 2017 since the November Outlook.

The prolonged period of low growth has precipitated a self-fulfilling low-growth trap. Business has little incentive to invest given insufficient demand at home and in the global economy, continued uncertainties, and a slowed pace of structural reform. In addition, although the unemployment rate in the OECD is projected to fall to 6.2 per cent by 2017, 39 million people will still be out of work, almost 6.5 million more than before the crisis. Muted wage gains and rising inequality depress consumption growth. Global trade growth, at less than 3 per cent on average over the projection period, is well below historical rates, as value-chain intensive and commodity-based trade are being held back by factors ranging from spreading protectionism to China rebalancing toward consumption-oriented growth.

Negative feedback-loops are at work. Lack of investment erodes the capital stock and limits the diffusion of innovations. Skill mismatches and forbearance by banks capture labour and capital in low productivity firms. Sluggish trade prospects slow knowledge transfer. These malignant forces slow down productivity growth, constraining potential output, investment, and trade. In per capita terms, the potential of the OECD economies to grow has halved from just below 2 per cent 20 years ago to less than one per cent per year, and the drop across emerging markets is similarly dramatic. The sobering fact is that it will take 70 years, instead of 35, to double living standards.

The low-growth trap is not ordained by demographics or globalization and technological change. Rather, these can be harnessed to achieve a different global growth path – one with higher employment, faster wage growth, more robust consumption with greater equity. The high-growth path would reinvigorate trade and more innovation would diffuse from the frontier firms as businesses respond to economic signals and invest in new products, processes, and workplaces.

What configuration of fiscal, monetary, and structural policies can propel economies from the low-growth trap to the high-growth path, safeguarding living standards for both young and older generations?

Monetary policy has been the main tool, used alone for too long. In trying to revive economic growth alone, with little help from fiscal or structural policies, the balance of benefits-to-risks is tipping. Financial markets have been signalling that monetary policy is overburdened. Pricing of risks to maturity, credit, and liquidity are so sensitized that small changes in investor attitude have generated volatility spikes, such as in late 2015 and again in early 2016.

Fiscal policy must be deployed more extensively, and can take advantage of the environment created by monetary policy. Governments today can lock in very low interest rates for very long maturities to effectively open up fiscal space. Prioritized and high-quality spending generates the capacity to repay the obligations in the longer term while also supporting growth today. Countries have different needs and initial situations, but OECD research points to the kind of projects and activities that have high multipliers, including both hard infrastructure (such as digital, energy, and transport) and soft infrastructure (including early education and innovation). The right choices will catalyse business investment, which, as the Outlook of a year ago argued, is ultimately the key to propelling the economy from the low-growth trap to the high-growth path.

The high-growth path cannot be achieved without structural policies that enhance market competition, innovation, and dynamism; increase labour market skills and mobility; and strengthen financial market stability and functioning. As outlined in the special chapter in this Outlook, the OECD’s Going for Growth and the comprehensive Productivity for Inclusive Growth Nexus Report of the OECD Ministerial Summit, there is a coherent policy set for each country based on its own characteristics and objectives that can raise productivity, growth and equity.

The need is urgent. The longer the global economy remains in the low-growth trap, the more difficult it will be to break the negative feedback loops, revive market forces, and boost economies to the high-growth path. As it is, a negative shock could tip the world back into another deep downturn. Even now, the consequences of policy inaction have damaged prospects for today’s youth with 15 per cent of them in the OECD not in education, employment, or training; have drastically reduced the retirement incomes people are likely to get from pension funds compared to those who retired in 2000; and have left us on a carbon path that will leave us vulnerable to climatic disruption.

Citizens of the global economy deserve a better outcome. If policymakers act, they can deliver to raise the future path of output – which is the wherewithal for economies to make good on promises – to create jobs and develop career paths for young people, to pay for health and pension commitments to old people, to ensure that investors receive adequate returns on their assets, and to safeguard the planet.


OECD Economic Outlook urges policy action to promote productivity and equality

by Oliver Denk, OECD Economics Department

The Special Chapter of the OECD Economic Outlook published today shows why the global economy remains in the doldrums. Since the mid-2000s, productivity growth has been markedly lower than at any other time since the 1950s. This matters as rising productivity lies at the heart of economic progress.

The chapter also shows another unsettling trend. Income inequality has been on a steady upward rise over the past 30 years. Technological change and globalisation are likely to have put low- and medium-skilled workers at a disadvantage. On the other hand, income growth has been especially high for the top 1%.

The productivity slowdown and the rise in inequality have acted as a “double-whammy” for many workers and their families. On average across OECD countries, income of the bottom 40% in the income distribution has improved by a dismal ½ per cent per year over the past decades (adjusted for inflation). Income of the bottom 10% is effectively no higher than in 1990, a quarter-century ago.

Given these unsatisfying developments, it is no wonder that economic, social and political discontent has risen on both sides of the Atlantic. Worryingly, no fast turnaround is in sight. The global projections in our Economic Outlook, also released today, forecast only a small uptick in productivity growth for 2016-17.

How can policymakers reverse the two trends of slowing productivity and rising inequality? Many policy choices – on monetary, fiscal and structural policies – affect both productivity and inequality. They could thus tackle these twin challenges together. Ambitious, multifaceted and coherent policy actions are necessary.

Aggressive demand management will help economies return to trend productivity and employment. The downturn since 2007 has not only depressed productivity but also employment. Low-income, low-skilled workers have often been the first to lose their job. Accommodative monetary and fiscal policies work against this rise in poverty and income inequality.

Equally important, many countries have ample scope for structural policies to improve the education system, upgrade their infrastructure, facilitate the entry and exit of firms and support workers in transitioning to emerging, high-productivity jobs. Is there a one-size fits all? The chapter draws out the key general lessons, but country specificities matter as well. You can find the reform priorities tailored to each country’s circumstances in the country notes.


Promoting Productivity and Equality: A Twin Challenge

OECD Economic Outlook

The Productivity-Inclusiveness Nexus

Global Forum on Productivity

Productivity, productivity, wherefore art thou?  (Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scene 2)

First published on OECD Insights http://wp.me/p2v6oD-2vJ.

By OECD Statistics Directorate

Four hundred years after the death of Shakespeare there remain many misconceptions on what he wrote. Perhaps the most common concerns the adulterated quote above, which is actually a reference to why Romeo was a Montague rather than where Romeo was. In the same spirit of confusion, recent years have seen considerable debate about the causes of the productivity slowdown seen across OECD countries.

This year’s Productivity Compendium includes a special chapter that casts a spotlight on some of the potential villains stalking the stage, together with insights from the OECD Productivity Database, and frames the discussion under the umbrella of the Productivity Paradox: a reference to the fact that productivity has slowed during a period of significant technological change, increasing participation of firms and countries in global value chains and rising education levels in the labour force.  Indeed, the advent of digital innovations such as Big Data was expected to have sparked off a new wave of productivity growth, similar to those seen in the past, for example, as a result of electrification in the early 1900s and the ICT wave in the 1990s.

However, this has not yet materialised, raising a number of still largely open questions, ranging from potential lagged effects of these new technologies, a thinning out of new ideas (Gordon, 2012) to a breakdown of the ‘diffusion’ machine (OECD, 2015), right through to measurement.  Indeed, against a backdrop of increases in income and wealth inequalities, concerns have emerged that this may reflect a structural, and not a cyclical, slowdown, with consequential impacts on well-being and long-term growth; hence the theme for this year’s OECD Ministerial meeting and OECD Forum : “Enhancing Productivity for Inclusive Growth” www.oecd.org/forum.

Double, double toil and trouble (Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 1)

But whilst all of these actors may in part explain the recent post-crisis productivity slowdown, often overlooked in the debate is that the slowdown in productivity is not a recent affair, a fact that even Macbeth’s witches may have struggled to foresee. The OECD Compendium of Productivity Indicators 2016 reveals that productivity growth began to slow well before the crisis; trending down since the early 2000s in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States and since the 1970s in France, Germany, Italy and Japan (Figure 1).


Download graphs and data in Excel

Part of this downward trend in labour productivity can be explained by slower growth in multi-factor productivity (MFP), lending some weight to the arguments that technological spill-overs and diffusions from ICT, and other new technologies may be lower than from earlier technology breakthroughs. But lower MFP growth is not the only source.  In many countries the contribution of capital deepening has also declined significantly, particularly in recent years.

Nothing will come of nothing (King Lear: Act 1, Scene 1)

Although King Lear uttered the words above to his daughter Cordelia to solicit overt affection, his words are now typically used to illustrate that without investment, neither growth, nor indeed productivity, will follow. The Compendium shows, for example, that the direct contribution of information and communication technology (ICT) capital goods to productivity reached its peak in the late 1990s and has gradually waned since then, significantly so in most countries (Figure 2).


Download graph and data in Excel

And although the shares of ICT investment have held up reasonably well compared with other forms of investment, ICT investment as a share of GDP also remains below previous highs in many countries (Figure 3). Moreover, when measured and included, although knowledge based capital has held up better, it too has slowed in recent years and makes little change to the overall picture.


Download graphs and data in Excel

Truth is truth, to the end of reckoning (Measure for measure: Act V, Scene 1)

One suspect behind the slowdown, well versed in having to deal with the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ is measurement.  Indeed so prevalent is the view that measurement is at fault, particularly relating to the measurement of new disruptive (digital) technologies, such as Big Data,  and business models, such as AirBnB and UberPop, it has been given its own acronym, MMH, the Mis-Measurement Hypothesis.  The spread of digitalised applications has brought with it the provision of free services such as internet search capacity and media content and new business models, many of which are dependent on greater participation (i.e. labour input) by consumers.  But the consumer’s activity remains (by and large) outside of the GDP production boundary, and the free services received are not captured as household consumption, raising questions about a missing ‘consumer surplus’ from GDP.

However, whilst it is clear that digitalisation may have compounded long standing measurement issues, in particular the measurement of price change and, so in turn, volume measures used in productivity measurement, and where efforts to improve measurement continue, the evidence increasingly suggests that the MMH is, at best, only partially true.  Syverson (2016) for example shows that US GDP would have been around 15% higher in the third quarter of 2015 if the recent slowdown (post 2004) hadn’t occurred, swamping any potential unmeasured productivity growth and estimates of the consumer surplus, while Byrne, Fernald, and Reinsdorf (2016) show similar results.  Ahmad and Schreyer (2016) further demonstrate that the GDP accounting framework is ‘up to the challenges posed by digitalisation’ and reinforce the distinction that needs to be made between GDP and welfare and indeed consumer surplus.

This is the short and the long of it (The Merry Wives of Windsor: Act II, Scene II)

In summary therefore the evidence suggests that the productivity slowdown is real and not a statistical phenomenon.  True as this may be, it is also true that attempts to identify the causes of the slowdown can be greatly facilitated by improved availability or use of firm-level statistics in analyses, in particular on intra-firm transactions, and improved data on investment by type of asset, occupations, and skills. So, although statistics are not at fault they continue to provide the best route for a solution to the paradox and the key for policies that can restart the productivity engine.

The OECD Productivity Database

The OECD Productivity Database contains a consistent set of internationally comparable data on levels and growth rates of labour productivity, hours worked, employment, capital services, multifactor productivity and unit labour costs for OECD countries and Key Partners. It also includes growth measures of labour productivity, hours worked, employment and unit labour costs by main economic activity. These series, available from 1970 onwards for some countries, are updated on a daily basis.

Get real-time data at OECD Productivity Statistics (Database)


Ahmad, N and P. Schreyer (2016), “Measuring GDP in a Digitalised Economy”, OECD Statistics Directorate Working Paper, forthcoming.

Byrne D., J. Fernald and M. Reinsdorf (2016), “Does the United States have a productivity slowdown or a measurement problem?”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, BPEA Conference Draft, March 10-11.

Gordon, R. (2012), “Is US Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds”, NBER Working Papers, No. 18315.

OECD (2015), The Future of Productivity, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264248533-en.

OECD (2016), OECD Compendium of Productivity Indicators 2016, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://www.oecd.org/std/productivity-stats/oecd-compendium-of-productivity-indicators-22252126.htm.

Syverson, C. (2016), “Challenges to mismeasurement explanations for the U.S. productivity slowdown”, NBER Working Paper No. 21974, http://www.nber.org/papers/w21974.