Sources of Australia's Productivity Revival
19 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2004
Australia's annual rate of multifactor productivity growth accelerated a full percentage point in the 1990s. The fact that most other OECD countries did not share this experience suggests that domestic factors must have provided at least a major part of the explanation. This article establishes six stylised facts about Australia's 1990s productivity performance and then surveys available analytical studies to find explanations for them. With few aggregate models available to shed light on recent output and productivity growth, the survey also covers cross-country, industry and firm-level studies. Despite various shortcomings in data and specification of models, a reasonably clear picture emerges. The accumulation of physical and human capital has laid a long-term foundation for productivity growth. On top of this foundation, the greater openness of the economy to trade and investment, increased R&D activity and a strong uptake and innovative use of ICT have been specific sources of the productivity revival. There is also evidence that policy and institutional factors have been important in driving and enabling these determinants.
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