A Consistent Accounting of U.S. Productivity Growth

Eric J. Bartelsman and J. Joseph Beaulieu

in Hard-to-Measure Goods and Services

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780226044491
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226044507 | DOI:
A Consistent Accounting of U.S. Productivity Growth

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This chapter develops a framework for integrating economic statistics from various sources into a unified and internally consistent database. The goal is to present the data in such a way that users can easily change assumptions regarding the way the data are organized and classified, so as to efficiently assess the robustness of their estimates to variations in methodology. The usefulness of this framework is illustrated by applying it to productivity measurement in light of the Y2K problem, and the possible acceleration of capital retirement during the rush to invest in Y2K-compliant IT capital. When corrections are made for this effect, the growth rate of multifactor productivity in the nonfarm business sector is larger in the period 1995–1999 and smaller for subsequent years 2000 and 2001. The contribution of capital is correspondingly smaller in the first period and larger in the second. This pattern is of potential importance for the literature on the role of IT investment in the widely discussed post-1995 productivity pick-up.

Keywords: economic statistics; database; productivity measurements; Y2K; capital retirement; IT investment

Chapter.  13203 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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