Taking Over: A New US/UK Productivity Benchmark and the Nature of American Economic Leadership ca. 1910

Woltjer, P., 2013, Groningen: GGDC, 47 p. (GGDC Working Papers; vol. GD-140).

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This paper offers a direct industry-of-origin benchmark for the United States and the United Kingdom around 1910. The industry-of-origin approach allows for a disaggregation of international productivity differentials at the industry level, which enhances a deeper understanding of the comparative economic performance of these two countries. The benchmark sheds new light on the recent debate between Broadberry andWard and Devereux regarding the Anglo-American income and productivity differentials in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. I find that, on the eve of the First World War, the gap between the US and the UK was greater than suggested by most previous studies in terms of GDP per worker and GDP per capita. This revision arises mainly from a considerably higher estimate of the comparative productivity in the American agricultural and mining sectors. On the basis of time-series evidence, I find that the UK ceded productivity and income leadership earlier than conventional estimates have shown. I date the US take-over in GDP per capita around the 1880s and not post-1900 as suggested by Broadberry and Maddison.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGroningen
Number of pages47
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameGGDC Working Papers

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