Comparative productivity in market services: the distributive trades

Pub. Date
01 January, 1997
Pub. Type

This paper calculates relative labour productivity in the distributive trades in 1992 comparing Britain with Germany and the US. Estimates were derived for 25 sub-sectors comprising 9 sectors in wholesaling, 11 sectors in retailing and 5 sectors in hotels & catering. The US productivity lead over the UK in total distribution was of the order of 35% whereas Germany had only a slight lead over the UK of less than 10%. The US had the highest productivity levels in hotels & catering followed by retailing. Germany had a significant productivity advantage over the UK only in retailingÑproductivity levels in wholesaling and hotels & catering were similar in these two countries. At the individual sector level the UK enjoyed a productivity advantage over the US in only 3 of the 25 sectors whereas the UK led Germany in 10 sectors. The paper also shows evidence of convergence of UK productivity levels to those in the US and Germany since 1973 in 16 subsectors for which it was possible to derive consistent time series. That is, on average, productivity growth rates were highest in the UK relative to either the US or Germany over the period 1973 to 1992 in those sectors where Britain's productivity deficit was greatest in 1973.

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