Missed opportunities? Germany and the transatlantic labor-productivity gap, 1900-1940

Joost Veenstra

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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In the early twentieth century new technologies that were introduced during the second industrial revolution created opportunities for labor-productivity growth. At the same time, a labor-productivity gap emerged between Europe and the US in manufacturing with the former lagging increasingly far behind the latter. Did European countries fail to catch the winds of change and, therefore, miss out on opportunities for growth?

In this dissertation I study this question for Germany and move away from explanatory frameworks customary applied to the German/US labor-productivity gap. While the performance gap is traditionally associated with a failure on the part of Europe to operate at US levels of capital intensity, I show that during the interwar period Germany rapidly acquired American-type technology. The bulk of the performance gap resulted from an inefficient use of this newly obtained technology in Germany, rather than from relatively low capital-intensity levels.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Timmer, Marcel, Supervisor
  • de Jong, Herman, Supervisor
Award date20-Feb-2014
Place of PublicationGroningen
Print ISBNs9789036767910
Electronic ISBNs9789036767903
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Dissertation
  • Germany
  • Labor productivity
  • 1900-1950
  • Industry

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