A New View on Technology and Productivity in German Manufacturing in the Early Twentieth Century

ABSTRACT: Labor productivity in German manufacturing lagged persistently behind the United States in the early twentieth century. Traditionally, this is attributed to dichotomous technology paths across the Atlantic. However, various industry case studies suggest rapid diffusion of U.S. technologies in Germany. We develop a novel decomposition framework based on Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to reconcile these findings. We conclude that by 1936 inefficient assimilation of modern production techniques – and not the use of different techniques – accounted for most of the U.S./German labor-productivity gap. Our findings call for a reappraisal of the drivers behind cross-country differences in manufacturing performance.

AUTHORS: Marcel Timmer, Joost Veenstra and Pieter Woltjer

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Available at: Cambridge University Press
Journal: The Journal of Economic History, Volume 76, Issue 3, 2016
DOI: 10.1017/S0022050716000760
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MLA Timmer, Marcel, Joost Veenstra and Pieter Woltjer. “The Yankees of Europe? A New View on Technology and Productivity in German Manufacturing in the Early Twentieth Century.” The Journal of Economic History, 76.3 (2016): 874-908.
APA Timmer, M., Veenstra, J. & Woltjer, P. (2016) The Yankees of Europe? A New View on Technology and Productivity in German Manufacturing in the Early Twentieth Century. The Journal of Economic History, 76(3), 874-908.
Chicago Timmer, Marcel, Joost Veenstra and Pieter Woltjer. “The Yankees of Europe? A New View on Technology and Productivity in German Manufacturing in the Early Twentieth Century.” The Journal of Economic History 76, no. 3 (2016): 874-908.
Harvard Timmer, M., Veenstra, J. and Woltjer, P. 2016 The Yankees of Europe? A New View on Technology and Productivity in German Manufacturing in the Early Twentieth Century. The Journal of Economic History, 76(3), pp. 874-908.
Vancouver Timmer, M., Veenstra, J. and Woltjer, P. The Yankees of Europe? A New View on Technology and Productivity in German Manufacturing in the Early Twentieth Century. The Journal of Economic History, 2016 September 1; 76(3): 874-908.

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