New Data and Output Concepts for Understanding Productivity Trends

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Discussion Paper

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The present study is the second is a series of three papers devoted to issues in the measurement of productivity and productivity growth. The contributions of the present paper are three. First, it introduces a new approach to measuring industrial productivity based on income-side data that are published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The data are internally consistent in that both inputs and outputs are income-side measures of value added, whereas the usual productivity measures combine expenditure-side output measures with income-side input measures. Second, because of interest in the “new economy,” we have also constructed a set of new-economy accounts. For the purpose of this study, we define the new economy as machinery, electric equipment, telephone and telegraph, and software. Finally, because of concerns about poor deflation in the current output measures, this study constructs a new output concept called “well-measured output,” which includes only those sectors for which output is relatively well measured. We present a brief summary of the behavior of the alternative measures.

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