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and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

We’re a UK-wide research
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productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on productivity dynamics by industry

This research employs quarterly national accounts data at 2-digit level for three countries (France, UK and USA) for which such detailed data are available relatively timely, i.e. for the four quarters of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. The data covers labour productivity, and are complemented with measures of capital intensity and total factor productivity where possible.

The analysis includes a shift-share analysis to detect the impact of the underlying industry dynamics on macro productivity by quarter in the three countries.

It then follows up from earlier work (van Ark et al. 2020) by applying several industry taxonomies that specifically identified the role of (digital) technology, incl. shares of ICT tangible and intangible investment; intermediate purchases of ICT goods and services; robots per hundreds of employees; share of ICT specialists in total employment; and share of turnover from online sales (Calvino, 2018). The study expands those taxonomies with some specific measures that are relevant to the pandemic, incl. shares of employees working from home, foreign trade dependencies and integration in global value chains.

The taxonomies are then applied, separately and combined, for an analysis of productivity contributions by industry group using those different taxonomies, and econometric and cluster analysis is employed to explain differences across industry groups and countries.

The paper also discusses the implications of the quarterly analysis for the medium-term projections of productivity in The Conference Board’s global economic outlook model (De Vries and Erumban, 2018). Finally, the paper provides input to the development of a regular indicator to predict productivity growth in the UK, a productivity tracker, in collaboration with the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Lead researcher Bart van Ark (The University of Manchester)

Collaborators Abdul Erumban (The University of Groningen and The Conference Board), Klaas de Vries (The Conference Board)

The University of Manchester