Growth and Crisis
Edited by Matilde Mas and Robert Stehrer
Chapter 14: The Dutch Productivity Performance: Cross Your Border and Look Around
14. The Dutch productivity performance: cross your border and look around* Henry van der Wiel, Harold Creusen, George van Leeuwen and Eugene van der Pijll 14.1 INTRODUCTION Over the last decades the labour productivity lead of the Dutch economy seems to have easy come and easy gone. After World War II, the Netherlands caught up with the US, and took over the lead in the mid1970s. This is remarkable, as the US is mostly considered as the country with the most advanced technology and the highest productivity level. Since the second half of the 1990s, however, the lead of the Dutch economy as a whole over the US has gradually diminished (see also Chapter 5 in Part II Country Chapters). Comparisons at the industry level put the Dutch favourable macro position in another light. Being the best at the aggregated level does not automatically imply being the best at lower levels of aggregation all across the board. In fact, the leading position of the Dutch market sector as a whole can only be traced back to a few industries. Data from the EU KLEMS database reveal, for instance, that the Dutch transport industry is one of the world leaders in productivity levels. In contrast, many other Dutch industries, such as the telecom industry, feature productivity levels that are far below the productivity level of the global frontier: the highest attainable productivity level given the existing technologies.1 So in these industries opportunities exist to catch-up to the global frontier. Using firm-level...
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