Productivity Levels in Distributive Trades: A New ICOP Dataset for OECD Countries

Marcel P. Timmer, Gerard Ypma

Research output: Working paperAcademic

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This study provides a new dataset for international comparisons of labour productivity levels in distributive trade (retail and wholesale trade) between OECD countries. The productivity level comparisons are based on a harmonised set of Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) for 1997 using the industry-of-origin approach as developed in the International Comparisons of Output and Productivity (ICOP) project. The methodology mimics current national accounts practice in measuring real output over time. The comparative estimates are extrapolated from the benchmark year using those national accounts series. The main finding of this study is that there is still a wide variety in labour productivity levels in the distribution sector across the OECD area. In 2002, the Germany, the Benelux and Scandinavian countries (except Sweden) were leading in terms of PPP-converted value added per hour worked with higher levels than in the U.S.. In Asia, the comparative labour productivity level is on average 39% of the U.S. level, whereas it is 48% on average in Eastern Europe. Within the “old” EU-15, countries like Italy, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. had relative levels less than 70% of the U.S.. There is no clear sign of convergence in productivity levels among OECD countries during the past two decades.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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