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April 2005, Vol. 128, No.4
Comparisons of economic performance: Canada versus Australia, 1983–2000
Tarek M. Harchaoui, Jimmy Jean, and Faouzi Tarkhani
Productivity performance has been a topic of interest throughout recent decades. Research was directed at issues at different times, depending on the nature of the public policy debate. For example, after 1973, research focused on whether there was a historical slowdown in productivity growth in developed countries. Recently, an issue has focused on whether and how the introduction of information technology is contributing to productivity performance. In addition, the progressive globalization of the world economy, increasing exposure of individual countries to international trade and capital movements, has heightened interest on cross country comparison of productivity performance.
In this context, Canada and U.S. comparisons have long been an important research theme of the Canadian Productivity Accounts program of Statistics Canada. This study expands the international scope of this program to explore productivity growth in Australia; a country that was considered an economic miracle in the 1990s and one that has many similarities to Canada.1
How are these countries similar? First, Canada and Australia are both small countries in terms of population, suggesting similar economies of scale at work. Australia has a population of nearly 20 million, compared with approximately 30 million in Canada. (See appendix table A-1 for some key figures on both countries.) Moreover, in 2001, gross domestic product per capita was approximately $28,900 in Canada, compared with $27,300 in Australia, reflecting similar standards of living.
Second, the two countries reflect similar economic structures. Australia, like Canada, is a net importer of production technology. Machinery and transportation equipment represent approximately half of total imports of both countries. The bulk of high tech equipment of both countries is imported from the United States.
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1 Whereas South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore were considered miracle economies in the 1970s and 1980s, Finland, Ireland, and Australia are considered as the miracle economies of the 1990s. See Angus Maddison, The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective (Paris, OECD Development Centre, 2001).
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Foreign Labor Statistics
productivity growth: Canadian-U.S. business sectors, 1987–2000.—Apr.
A perspective on the U.S.-Canada manufacturing productivity gap.—Feb. 2001.
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