1887

OECD Statistics Working Papers

The OECD Statistics Working Paper Series - managed by the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate – is designed to make available in a timely fashion and to a wider readership selected studies prepared by staff in the Secretariat or by outside consultants working on OECD projects. The papers included are of a technical, methodological or statistical policy nature and relate to statistical work relevant to the organisation. The Working Papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Joint Working Paper

Measuring Well-being and Progress in Countries at Different Stages of Development: Towards a More Universal Conceptual Framework (with OECD Development Centre)

Measuring and Assessing Job Quality: The OECD Job Quality Framework (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Forecasting GDP during and after the Great Recession: A contest between small-scale bridge and large-scale dynamic factor models (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Decoupling of wages from productivity: Macro-level facts (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Which policies increase value for money in health care? (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Compiling mineral and energy resource accounts according to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) 2012 (with OECD Environment Directorate)

English

International productivity gaps

Are labour input measures comparable?

Cross-country differences in the measurement of labour input contribute to observed productivity gaps across countries. In most countries, labour force surveys (LFS) form a primary source of information for employment related statistics, such as persons employed, employees and hours worked. However, because the coverage of LFS does not fully align with the coverage of activities used to estimate GDP, additional adjustments relying on complementary sources, such as administrative or business statistics, are often applied to bridge conceptual differences, and in many countries, the use of these sources is often preferred to LFS data. Evidence from the 2018 OECD/Eurostat national accounts labour input survey shows that the adjustments made to align measures of labour input with the corresponding measures of production according to the domestic concept, vary considerably across countries, with many countries making no adjustments, in particular, for the measurement of hours worked. This paper demonstrates that countries making no adjustments to average hours worked measures extracted from the original source, such as self-reported hours actually worked in the LFS, appear to systematically over-estimate labour input and, so, under-estimate labour productivity levels. To illustrate the size of this bias, for this group of countries, the paper adopts a simplified component method that introduces a series of explicit adjustments on working time using information available in LFS and complementary sources. The results point to a reduction in relative productivity gaps of around 10 percentage points in many countries compared to current estimates. Although future releases of OECD productivity (levels) statistics will incorporate these changes, it is important to stress that these estimates will only be used as a stop-gap while countries making no, or minimal adjustments, work to leverage all available data sources to produce average hours worked estimates that align with the national accounts domestic concept and that address self-reporting bias; which is the paper’s principal recommendation for those countries that currently make no or only partial adjustments. Indeed, many EU member states, coordinated by Eurostat, are already moving in this direction, with ESA 2010 derogations set to expire by 2020.

English

Keywords: employment, labour input, labour productivity, mismeasurement, hours worked
JEL: E26: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy / Informal Economy; Underground Economy; E1: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / General Aggregative Models; E24: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy / Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
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