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July 1999, Vol. 122, No. 7
International labor productivity and per capita income
Bart van Ark and Robert H. McGuckin
Interest in international comparisons
of economic performance and living standards has
grown with increased world trade and improved labor and capital mobility. Differences among countries in average labor productivity, a measure of economic performance, and income per capita, a measure of living standards, are determined by differences in the number of annual working hours per person and the share of the population that works. Thus, any study of international variations in these measures must be accomplished using a range of labor market indicators—working hours, unemployment, and labor force participation rates.
This article describes recent work at The Conference Board in combining estimates from a variety of statistical sources to reconcile labor productivity and per capita income for a wide range of countries and regions.1 This approach helps in understanding how living standards and economic performance are related. Because these factors are affected by policy, identifying their relative importance in attaining economic goals provides benchmarks for assessing the costs of particular policies and potential areas for reform.
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1999 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 See The Conference Board series, Perspectives on a Global Economy: "Understanding Differences in Economic Performance," Report 1187–97–RR (New York, Summer 1997); "Technology, Productivity, and Growth: U.S. and German Issues," Report 1206–97–RR (Brussels, Winter 1997); "Asia After the Crisis: Challenges for a Return to Rapid Growth," Report 1219–98–RR (New York, Summer 1998); and "The Euro’s Impact on European Labor Markets," Report 1236–99–RR (New York, Winter 1998).
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