NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Retrospective on the 1970s Productivity Slowdown

William Nordhaus

NBER Working Paper No. 10950
Issued in December 2004
NBER Program(s):   EFG   PR   EEE

The present study analyzes the "productivity slowdown" of the 1970s. The study also develops a new data set -- industrial data available back to 1948 -- as well as a new set of tools for decomposing changes in productivity growth. The major result of this study is that the productivity slowdown of the 1970s has survived three decades of scrutiny, conceptual refinements, and data revisions. The slowdown was primarily centered in those sectors that were most energy-intensive, were hardest hit by the energy shocks of the 1970s, and therefore had large output declines. In a sense, the energy shocks were the earthquake, and the industries with the largest slowdown were near the epicenter of the tectonic shifts in the economy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10950

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