SOME COUNTRIES PRODUCE SO MUCH MORE OUTPUT PER WORKER THAN OTHERS: Productivity Calculations by Country 4

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Our productivity differences are larger in part because of our more standard treatment of human capital and in part because we do not impose orthogonality between productivity and the other factors of production.

Finally, a question arises as to why we find a large Solow residual in levels. What do the measured differences in productivity across countries actually reflect? First, from an accounting standpoint, differences in physical capital intensity and differences in educational attainment explain only a small fraction of the differences in output per worker across countries. One interpretation of this result is that we must turn to other differences, such as the quality of human capital, on-the-job training, or vintage effects. That is, we could add to the inputs included in the production function. A second and complementary interpretation of the result suggests that a theory of productivity differences is needed. Differences in technologies may be important — for example, Parente and Prescott (1996) construct a theory in which insiders may prevent new technologies from being adopted. In addition, in economies with social infrastructures not conducive to efficient production, some resources may be used to protect against diversion rather than to produce output: capital could consist of security systems and fences rather than factories and machinery. Accounting for the differences in productivity across countries is a promising area of future research.