Productivity growth in UK industries, 1970-2000: structural change and the role of ICT

Working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 12 May 2005

Working Paper No. 259 
By Nicholas Oulton and Sylaja Srinivasan

This paper uses a new industry-level dataset to quantify the roles of structural change and information and communication technology (ICT) in explaining productivity growth in the United Kingdom, 1970-2000. The dataset is for 34 industries covering the whole economy, of which 31 industries are in the market sector. Using growth accounting, we find that ICT capital accounted for 13% of productivity growth in the market sector in 1970-79 (ie 0.47 percentage points out of 3.62% per annum growth of GDP per hour), 26% in 1979-90, and 28% in 1990-2000. In 1995-2000 the proportion rises to 47%. ICT capital, despite only being a small fraction of the total capital stock, contributed as much to growth as non-ICT capital in 1990-2000 and getting on for twice as much in 1995-2000. Econometric evidence also supports an important role for ICT. Total factor productivity (TFP) growth slowed down in 1995-2000, but we find econometric evidence that a boom in ‘complementary investment’, ie expenditure on reorganisation that accompanies ICT investment but is not officially measured as investment, could have led to a decline in the conventional measure of TFP growth. 

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