One of the most important databases and analyses regarding the international economy released in the recent period is that calculated by Jorgenson and Vu to evaluate the relative contributions of capital, particularly information technology (IT), and labour inputs compared to that of total factor productivity (TFP) in GDP growth ((Jorgenson & Vu, 2007a), (Vu, 2007)) This has formed part of the World Bank’s International Comparison Programme (Jorgenson & Vu, 2009)). Because of the comprehensive nature of the published data trends can be identified in addition to those emphasised by Jorgenson and Vu themselves.
One of the most important of such trends is clear evidence that as economies become more developed the contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth increases relative to that of labour inputs, i.e. ‘capital-intensive’ growth replaces ‘labour-intensive’ growth. Such a pattern of transition from labour-intensive to capital-intensive growth with economic development would be important in itself and indicate a confirmation of analyses in classical economic theory.
The present article outlines these trends. It should be pointed out that while this paper utilises calculations based on data produced by Jorgenson and Vu they do not bear responsibility for conclusions drawn in the present article.Source of economic growth in developed and developing economies
Table 1 sets out annual average GDP growth, together with the percentage contributions of capital, labour, and TFP, for 109 economies, 22 developed and 87 developing, for the ten year period 1995-2005. The calculations are from the data set out by Vu (Vu, 2007). Subgroups for developed and developing economies are shown. Table 2 sets out similar calculations from the data for periods defined by Jorgenson and Vu - 1989-1995, 1995-2000 and 2000-2005 (Jorgenson & Vu, 2007b).
In addition to periodisations, other differences between the two tables should be noted. Table 1 shows unweighted means and medians – i.e. the significance of each country is treated as equal, whereas the data of Jorgenson and Vu in Table 2 is weighted. In Table 1 improvements in labour quality are included in TFP, as in the data presented by Vu (Vu, 2007), whereas in Table 2 improvements in labour quality are included in labour inputs (Jorgenson & Vu, 2007b). There are 109 countries in Table 1 compared to 122 countries in Table 2. As will be seen, however, such differences do not alter the qualitative trends found.The dominance of factor inputs in GDP growth
One of the fundamental findings of Jorgenson and Vu, shown in both Table 1 and Table 2, is the dominance of factor inputs of capital and labour compared to TFP in international economic growth. Taking all economies in Table 1, the mean percentage of growth accounted for by increases in inputs of capital and labour is 74.8% and the contribution of TFP growth is 25.1%. Taking the three periods defined by Jorgenson and Vu in Table 2, the contribution of factor inputs of capital and labour to GDP growth is 83.7%, 76.8% and 64.3%. From their data Jorgenson and Vu conclude: ‘We allocate the growth of world output, as measured in the World Bank’s International Comparison Program, between input growth and productivity. We find… that input growth greatly predominates. ‘(Jorgenson & Vu, 2009)
Role of capital inputs
Turning to a more detailed breakdown, the greatest contribution to GDP growth is from increase in capital inputs. Taking all economies in Table 1, the mean percentage contribution of increases in capital to GDP growth is 39.6% and the median contribution is 42.6% - which is above the mean of 35.2% and median of 35.1% for the contribution of increase in labour hours, which itself exceeds the mean contribution of TFP growth of 25.1% and median contribution of 25.1%.
Taking the periods defined by Jorgenson and Vu, the contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth is greater than either labour hours or TFP in all periods - at 54.1%, 46.4% and 40.7%. Jorgenson and Vu conclude: ‘About 40-45% of world growth can be attributed to the accumulation and deployment of capital and another 25-33% to the use of labour input… productivity accounted for only 20-35% of growth.’ (Jorgenson & Vu, 2009)
The different pattern of growth in developed and developing economies
Taking the data in Table 1, however, there is a clear contrast in the pattern of growth between developed and developing economies. The contribution of increases in capital inputs is significantly greater in the developed economies than in the developing ones – i.e. developed economies follow a ‘capital-intense’ path of development compared to developing economies. Considering all economies in Table 1, the mean contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth in developed economies is 52.9%, significantly above the 36.3% in developing economies. The median contribution of capital inputs to growth in developed economies is 50.6% compared to 39.3% in developing economies.
In contrast to developed economies ‘capital-intense’ path of growth, the contribution of labour inputs to GDP growth is significantly higher in developing economies than in developed ones – i.e. in contrast to developed economies, developing economies have a ‘labour intense’ path of growth. The mean contribution of inputs of labour hours to GDP growth is 38.3% in developing economies compared to only 23.1% for developed economies, while the median contribution of increase in labour hours to GDP growth is 40.6% in developing economies compared to 23.8% for developed economies.
Consolidating the above data, capital inputs are the dominant contribution to GDP growth in developed economies whereas the role of labour hours exceeds capital inputs in developing economies even if improvements in labour quality are included in TFP. The mean contributions to GDP growth in developed economies are, in order of percentage contribution, capital 52.9%, TFP 24.0%, and labour hours 23.1%, compared to, in developing economies, 38.3% labour hours, 36.3% capital, and 25.4% TFP. The median contributions to GDP growth in developed economies are capital 50.6%, TFP 26.0%, and labour hours 23.8%, compared to 40.6% labour hours, 39.3% capital, and 25.0% TFP in developing economies.
To see these trends visually, the mean percentage contribution of capital, labour hours and TFP to GDP growth for developed and developing countries is shown in Figure 1 and the median contributions in Figure 2.
- In Jorgenson and Vu’s data, the percentage contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth in the G7 economies is the highest for any group in all periods. In all three periods capital investment contributed more than 50% of GDP growth in G7 economies. The capital-intensive path of development of G7 economies is therefore evident.
- The contribution of capital to GDP growth for the non-G7 developed economies is lower than for the G7 in all periods, but it is also higher than in the non-Asian developing countries in all periods. The contribution of capital to GDP growth for the non-G7 developed economies is higher than in the developing Asian economies for two periods and lower in one. This overall pattern confirms that, after the G7, the group of economies most dependent on capital investment for GDP growth is the non-G7 developed economies - although the gap with the East Asian developing economies is not great.
- The contribution of capital to GDP growth in the developing Asian economies is higher than for all other groups of developing economies in all periods – i.e. among developing economies the Asian economies most resemble the developed economies in the high intensity of capital investment in GDP growth.
- For the Latin American, Sub-Saharan African, and North African and Middle Eastern developing country groups, with only one exception, Sub-Saharan Africa in 2000-2006, the contribution of labour inputs to GDP growth exceeds the contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth in all periods.
- Eastern Europe(2), undergoing transition from Communism to capitalism, differs sharply from all other groups in that growth has weak inputs of capital and labour and relies primarily relied on TFP increases.
Therefore, although Jorgenson and Vu do not present a consolidated figure for developed and developing countries, the more capital-intensive character of economic growth in the developed economies compared to most developing economies is clear in their periodisation. Developing Asian economies constitute an ‘intermediate’ group between the majority of developing economies and the developed economies. The percentage contribution of capital to GDP growth in the periods and for the country groups defined in Jorgenson and Vu is shown visually in Figure 3.
More detailed analysis by country group within the above overall trends will now be considered.
The ‘capital-intensive’ pattern of development of the G7 economies is clear.(3) Taking the period 1995-2005 the G7 is the most capital-intensive in terms of its pattern of growth of any economy group. The mean contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth is 60.3% for the G7 compared to 39.6% for all economies, and the median contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth in the G7 is 50.9% compared to 42.6% for all economies - see Table 3.
Taking the periodisations of Jorgenson and Vu, shown in Table 2, the percentage contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth in the G7 is 60.0%, 53.4% and 56.3% - the highest of all groups for all periods.
The relative contribution of increases in labour hours to GDP growth in the G7 economies is low – a mean of 11.3% in the G7 economies compared to 35.2% in all economies and a median of 15.9% in the G7 economies compared to 35.1% for all economies. Taking the periodisation of Jorgenson and Vu the percentage contribution of labour inputs to GDP growth in the G7 is below the average for all economies in all periods.
The G7 economies therefore have a clear ‘capital intensive/low growth of labour inputs’ pattern of development.
The pattern of development of the non-G7 developed economies also shows a capital intensive path of development compared to developing economies.(4) Taking the period 1995-2005, the mean contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth is 49.5% for non-G7 developed economies compared to 36.3% for developing economies - the median contribution is 50.3% compared to 39.3% for developing economies. Compared to the G7, the contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth for non-G7 developed economies is either slightly lower or the same as for G7 economies – the mean for G7 economies being 60.3% and that for non-G7 developing economies being 49.5%. The median for the G7 economies is 50.9% and the median for non-G7 developed economies is 50.3%.
Taking the periodisation of Jorgenson and Vu, the non-G7 developed economies have a higher percentage contribution to GDP growth of capital inputs than all developing economy groups in all periods with the one exception of the East Asian developing economies in 2000-2005 – i.e. the more capital-intensive path of economic development in the non-G7 developed economies compared to developing economies is clear.
Given both G7 and the non-G7 developed economies have a more capital-intensive pattern of growth than developing economies, the more capital intensive growth of developed economies compared to developing economies is clear.
East Asian and Asian developing economies
Jorgenson and Vu analyse the developing Asian economies as a single group – see Table 2. It may be preferable to divide them into an East Asian and a South Asian group – although the distinction is not vital from the point of view of the trends considered in this article. First the East Asian group will be considered and then the developing Asian economies as a whole.
The pattern of growth of the East Asian developing economies in the period 1995-2005 is shown in Table 5.(5) The East Asian group of developing economies are slightly less capital intensive in their path of development than the G7 and non-G7 developed economies – although the difference is not great. The mean percentage contribution of capital to GDP growth is 60.3% in the G7, 49.5% in the non-G7 Developed Economies and 47.2% in the East Asian Developing Economies, while the median contribution is 50.9% in the G7, 50.3% in the non-G7 Developed Economies and 48.4% in the East Asian economies. Overall, however, the East Asian developing economies clearly show a relatively similar capital-intensive path of GDP growth as the developed economies.
Taking the periodisation of Jorgenson and Vu, as shown in Table 2, and considering the developing Asian economies as whole, then as already noted the developing Asian economies have a lower percentage contribution to GDP growth of capital inputs compared to the G7 for all periods and compared to the non-G7 developed economies for two out of three periods. However, the developing Asian economies have a higher percentage contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth than all other groups of developing economies for all periods. The intermediate situation of the Asian/East Asian developing economies, in terms of capital-intensity of growth, between the developed economies and the other developing economies is therefore clear.
The developing East Asian/developing Asian economies are, however, not equidistant between the developed and the developing economies in their pattern of growth. Their pattern of growth, while not as capital-intensive as the developed economies is nevertheless closer, in its capital-intensity, to the developed economies than to the majority of developing economies.
Turning to wider groups of developing economies, Table 6 shows the pattern of GDP growth for the period 1995-2005 for developing economies excluding East Asia, which have already been examined, and Eastern Europe – which is analysed below. This covers 63 developing economies in South Asia, (6) Latin America,(7) Sub-Saharan Africa(8) and the Middle East and North Africa(9). This constitutes the majority of developing economies. The pattern of growth of these developing economies, compared to the developed economies and the developing East Asian/developing Asian economies, is clear. Unlike the developed economies and East Asian developing economies, GDP growth in these other groups of developing economies is dominated by labour inputs.
Taking the period 1995-2005 the mean contribution of inputs of labour hours for the 63 developing economies is 50.1% - compared to 28.8% for the East Asian developing economies, 28.5% for the non-G7 developed economies, and 11.3% for the G7 economies. The median contribution of inputs of labour hours is 44.2% compared to 26.9% for the East Asian developing economies, 24.5% for the non-G7 developing economies and 15.9% for the G7 economies.
Taking the periodisation of Jorgenson and Vu, as set out in Table 2, and taking their groupings of Sub-Saharan African, Latin American, and North African and Middle Eastern developing economies, the percentage contribution of inputs of labour is the highest input to GDP growth in all groups in all the periods up to 2006 except for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2000-2006.
The more labour-intensive path of growth of the majority of developing countries is clear.
may be seen from Table 2 that the pattern of economic changes in
Eastern Europe in the period studied differed fundamentally from the
rest of the world economy.(10)
The East European economies suffered severe falls in production in the early 1990s – this lasting until 1998 in the case of the former USSR.(11) The percentage contribution to GDP growth of input of labour hours in Eastern Europe and the former USSR was negative. The contribution of increase in capital inputs to GDP growth was very weak by comparison to the rest of the world economy. Taking the periodisation of Jorgenson and Vu, as shown in Table 2, after being negative in 1989-95, TFP accounted for 136.1% of GDP growth in Eastern Europe in the period 1995-2000, and for 88.9% in the period 2000-2005 – i.e unlike the rest of the world economy growth in Eastern Europe was overwhelmingly due to TFP increases.
This unique situation in the East European economies statistically raises the percentage contribution of TFP to GDP growth for the total economies in Table 1 and Table 2. However as Eastern Europe accounted for only 6.6% of the GDP of all countries analysed in 1989-1995, and only 5.5% in 1995-2000 and 2000-2005, the combined size of these economies is too small to alter substantively either the overall balance between inputs of capital and labour and TFP, or the capital intensive pattern of GDP growth of the developed economies.
The dependence of economic development on TFP growth in Eastern Europe may be regarded as either a unique one off event, due to the collapse of the former economic system in Eastern Europe and the former USSR, therefore not giving general lessons for economic growth, or treated as that in any period there will be statistical outliers. A case can therefore be made for excluding Eastern Europe and the former USSR from comparisons, on the grounds of their undergoing a unique experience, which would lower the average international contribution of TFP to GDP growth. However, in order to avoid the suggestion of selective inclusion of data, the case considered here is that of all economies including Eastern Europe.
The finding that developed economies follow a capital-intensive path of growth compared to most developing economies, with the East Asian/Asian developing economies forming an intermediate group between the developed economies and other developing economies would be, of course, important in itself. It however would also cast light on an important issue in economic theory.
In the classic founding work of modern economics, The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith analysed that the role of capital and intermediate inputs, which he jointly termed ‘stock’, would increase as an economy developed. Smith noted: ‘As the accumulation of stock must, in the nature of things, be previous to the division of labour, so labour can be more and more subdivided in proportion only as stock is previously more and more accumulated… As the division of labour advances, therefore, in order to give constant employment to an equal number of workmen, an equal stock of provisions, and a greater stock of materials and tools than what would have been necessary in a ruder state of things must be accumulated beforehand.’(Smith, 1999, p. 372) Other economists, including Keynes, arrived at the same conclusion of an increasing role of capital investment in economic development via a somewhat different chain of reasoning.(12) (For a wider discussion see Ross, 2009).
Smith, of course, had no systematic econometric data of the modern type with which to verify his findings – his conclusion was based on theoretical reasoning drawn from particular observations. Jorgenson and his collaborators have, however, already found that intermediate inputs, one element of Smith’s category of ‘stock’, grow more rapidly than capital, labour or TFP.(13) The finding in the data of Jorgenson and Vu that the percentage contribution of capital inputs to GDP growth is higher in developed than in developing economies is therefore also in line with, and casts important light on, Smith’s analysis and that of his successors.
The pattern in the data calculated by Jorgenson and Vu is in line with classical economics. It however does not support other more recent theories regarding economic development. These contrasting views of the pattern of economic development are:
- Classical economic theory, as originally formulated by Adam Smith, foresaw a dynamic of transition from labour-intensive growth to more capital-intensive growth during economic development.
- Alternative theories, for example popularised by Krugman in regard to the East Asian economies (Krugman, 1994), instead suggested that the dynamic in economic development is one from growth dominated by factor inputs of capital and labour to one dominated by TFP growth in the most developed economies. (14)
The data presented by Jorgenson and Vu provides substantial evidence for the analysis of classical economics that economic development is accompanied by a transition from labour intensive to capital intensive growth. It however provides no evidence for the view that economic development leads to a greater role being played by TFP rather than factor inputs. Taking the six comparisons in the periodisation of Jorgenson and Vu (the two sets of developed economies, the G7 and the non-G7, times the three periods 1989-1995, 1995-2000, 2000-2005) TFP growth makes a lower percentage contribution to GDP growth in the developed economies than the average for all economies in four periods and a higher contribution in only two.
Jorgenson and Vu, in analysing their data, have emphasised:
- that capital and labour inputs predominate over TFP in GDP growth,
- the increasing role of IT investment in GDP growth,
However, a further significant trend is that their data shows a pattern whereby capital is the predominant input to GDP growth in developed economies – i.e. as economies develop they make a transition from labour-intensive to capital-intensive growth. Such a finding is of considerable importance:
- It indicates that, given such a pattern, an economy and its policy makers should anticipate growth becoming more capital intensive as an economy moves towards developed economy status.
- East Asian developing economies form an ‘intermediate’ group between the developed economies on the one side and the majority of developing economies on the other – although in greater reliance on capital inputs for growth than most developing economies they more resemble developed economies.
- Most developing economies are more dependent on labour inputs compared to capital inputs for GDP growth compared to developed economies.
- Such a transition from labour-intensive growth to capital-intensive growth as economies develop is in line with classic formulations of economic theory flowing from Adam Smith.
- Jorgenson and Vu’s data provides clear evidence in line with the classical economic view that as an economy develops its pattern of growth becomes more capital intensive, but it provides no evidence supporting views that as economies become more developed the role of factor inputs in GDP growth declines relative to TFP.
- Such a transition from labour intensive to capital intensive growth with economic development, while foreseen by classical economics, is not theorised in a number of standard contemporary treatments of economic growth – for a brief historical review see (Ross, 2009).(15)
The data produced by Jorgenson and Vu, and the trends it reveals, is therefore of great importance both from the practical point of view of view of study of economic growth and policy making, and from the point of view of economic theory.
* * *
Since this analysis was carried out Jorgenson and Vu have extended their data to 2008. (Jorgenson & Vu, 2010) The new data does not alter the main trends analysed above. A detailed analysis from the angle of approach in this article will be published here.
(1) Jorgenson and Vu note that for Latin America ‘The contribution of labour input was 1.77 before 1995, 1.70 from 1995-2000 and 1.82 after 2000, accounting for the lion’s share of regional growth.’ They also note for Sub-Saharan Africa: ‘As in Latin America, the contribution of labour input predominated throughout the period 1989-2004’ (Jorgenson & Vu, 2007a, p. 15).They do not however, make a generalisation to an overall pattern for developed and developing countries. It should also be noted that their data in the revised tables they have published (Jorgenson & Vu, 'Information technology and the world growth resurgence - updated tables', 2007b) differs from the original data in their article (Jorgenson & Vu, 2007a) in that its shows capital was the main percentage contributor to GDP growth in the non-G7 developed economies whereas the original data in their article indicated that labour input exceeded capital input in these economies and they had noted: ‘the non-G7 economies maintained rapid growth after 2000… The contribution of labour input predominated over capital input throughout the period 1989-2004.’ (Jorgenson & Vu, 2007a, p. 14)
(7) Countries in the Latin American group are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
(8) Countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa group are Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
(12) Keynes derived the tendency of a rising role of investment with economic development from savings behaviour. It formed a cornerstone of his analysis of effective demand and crisis: ‘the richer the community, the wider will tend to be the gap between its actual and is potential production; and therefore the more obvious and outrageous the defects of the economy system. For a poor community will be prone to consume by far the greater part of its output, so that a very modest measure of investment will be sufficient to provide full employment; whereas a wealthy community will have to discover much ampler opportunities for investment if the saving propensities of its wealthier members are to be compatible with the employment of its poorer members. If in a potentially wealthy community the inducement to invest is weak, then in spite of its potential wealth, the working of the principle of effective demand will compel it to reduce its actual output, until, in spite of its potential wealth, it has become so poor that its surplus over its consumption is sufficiently diminished to correspond to the weakness of the inducement to invest.’ (Keynes, 1983, p. 31)
‘the contribution of intermediate input is by far the most significant source of growth in output. The contribution of intermediate input alone exceeds the rate of productivity growth for thirty six of the forty five industries for which we have a measure of intermediate input… the predominant contributions to output growth are those of intermediate, capital and labour inputs. By far the most important contribution is that of intermediate input.'[xiii] (Jorgenson, Gollop, & Fraumeni, 1999, p. 200)
Considering such findings for the US in more detail, Jorgenson concluded:
‘The analysis of sources of growth at the industry level is based on the decomposition of the growth rate of sectoral input into the sum of the contributions of intermediate, capital and labour inputs and the growth of sectoral productivity… The sum of the contributions of intermediate, capital, and labour inputs is the predominant source of growth of output for 46 of the 51 industries…
‘Comparing the contribution of intermediate input with other sources of growth demonstrates that this input is by far the most significant source of growth. The contribution of intermediate input exceeds productivity growth and the contributions of capital and labour inputs. If we focus attention on the contributions of capital and labour inputs alone, excluding intermediate input from consideration, these two inputs are a more important source of growth than changes in productivity… The explanatory power of this perspective is overwhelming at the sectoral level. For 46 of the 51 industrial sectors… the contribution of intermediate, capital and labour inputs is the predominant source of output growth. Changes in productivity account for the major portion of output growth in only five industries. (Jorgenson D. W., 1995, p. 5)
Regarding studies of rapidly growing Asian economies, Ren and Sun found for China that in the period 1981-2000, subdivided into 1984-88, 1988-94 and 1994-2000: ‘’Intermediate input growth is the primary source of output growth in most industries.’ (Ren & Sun, 2007). For Taiwan, analysing 26 sectors in 1981-99, Chi-Yuan Liang found regarding intermediate material inputs: ‘Material input is the biggest contributor to output growth in all sectors during 1981-99, except… seven’. (Liang C.-Y. , 2007). For South Korea Hak K. Pyo, Keun-Hee Rhee and Bongchan Ha found: ‘The relative magnitude of contribution to output growth is in the order of: material, capital, labour, TFP then energy.’ (Pyo, Rhee, & Ha, 2007)
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