The decline of British manufacturing, 1973–2012: the role of total factor productivity

Pub. Date
06 February, 2019

This paper uses plant-level estimates of total factor productivity covering 40 years to examine what role, if any, productivity has played in the decline of output share and employment in British manufacturing. The results show that TFP growth in British manufacturing was negative between 1973 and 1982, marginally positive between 1982 and 1994 and strongly positive between 1994 and 2012. Poor TFP performance therefore does not appear to be the main cause of the decline of UK manufacturing. Productivity growth decompositions show that, in the latter period, the largest contributions to TFP growth come from foreign-owned plants, industries that are heavily involved in trade, and industries with high levels of intangible assets.