Manufacturing is often seen as the key to sustainable export and productivity growth in developing countries. This column argues that, while manufacturing played a key role in some countries’ development, high growth can be sustained without relying primarily on manufacturing. A process of learning, productivity improvement, and investment that touches all sectors characterises the most successful economies. Policies that artificially favour manufacturing should instead give way to maximising learning from the frontier in all sectors of the economy.
Uri Dadush, Friday, March 13, 2015
Samuel Marden, Sunday, December 28, 2014
It is often argued that for poor countries, increases in agricultural productivity result in higher non-agricultural output, but the theory is ambiguous and the empirical evidence is limited. This column presents evidence from a natural experiment provided by China’s early 1980s agricultural reforms. Higher agricultural output induced by the reforms led to quantitatively important growth in non-agricultural output. This growth appears to be primarily due to rural savings increasing the supply of capital to the non-agricultural sector.
Kozo Kiyota, Thursday, November 27, 2014
A major concern with multinationals is that they can cause disemployment (also called job offshoring). However, FDI could offset or even exceed such a negative effect. This column examines to what extent disemployment in Japan is related to FDI. The results suggest that disemployment in Japan is driven by substitution between capital and labour, rather than the reallocation of labour caused by FDI.
Daron Acemoglu, David Autor, David Dorn, Gordon H. Hanson, Brendan Price, Sunday, September 28, 2014
Manufacturing in the US has rebounded after the Great Recession, but employment levels have not recovered from their steep decline in the decade before the recession. This column examines to what extent the sector’s fall is a result of the rise of China. The authors estimate direct effects of import competition from China, as well as labour market and buyer-seller indirect effects that operate at the local level. China’s impact has been strong, and employment in US manufacturing is unlikely to recover.
Giuseppe Berlingieri, Thursday, September 25, 2014
Advanced nations are shedding manufacturing jobs and gaining service jobs – a trend that has been in place for decades. Some of the shift, however, is a reclassification effect. Corporate outsourcing of tasks like marketing means workers doing the same task as before now show up as working for a firm in the service sector. Using US data from the past 60 years, this column shows that the evolution of the input-output structure – which is mostly due to professional and business services outsourcing – accounts for 36% of the increase in services and 25% of the fall in manufacturing.
Arik Levinson, Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Pollution emitted by manufacturers has been falling in Europe and the US. A concern with this clean-up is that developed countries have been offshoring the production of pollution-intensive parts and products. This column presents evidence refuting this concern. Using a new approach, the author calculates that almost all of the clean-up in US manufacturing can be explained by technological changes.
Benedicta Marzinotto, Alessandro Turrini, Friday, September 5, 2014
The link between public- and private-sector compensation has important implications for the labour market and price competitiveness. This column reports that manufacturing and government wages co-move both in the long and short run, but that the long-run co-movement is much stronger where the government is an important employer. This co-movement tends to break down during fiscal consolidation periods, except in large-government countries. Moreover, manufacturing wages exhibit a stronger co-movement with productivity in countries where government wages are set via collective bargaining.
Oya Celasun, Gabriel Di Bella, Tim Mahedy, Chris Papageorgiou, Monday, February 24, 2014
The strong rebound of manufacturing production following the Great Recession of 2008–09 has generated renewed interest in the sector among analysts and policymakers. This column argues that a detailed look at the data suggests that claims of a US manufacturing renaissance are unwarranted. Yet, there remain factors that could support a greater contribution from the manufacturing sector to overall US growth in the years ahead.
Leonardo Iacovone, Aaditya Mattoo, Andrés Zahler, Sunday, September 15, 2013
Service exports and innovation may be a source of dynamic growth for countries in the middle-income trap. This column presents new research showing some support for this optimistic view. That said, it’s clear that researchers need to improve their understanding of how firms in the services sector innovate and increase productivity, and whether better-tailored policies can promote trade and innovation in services.
Richard Dobbs, Friday, February 8, 2013
Surprisingly, manufacturing in some advanced economies is experiencing something of a renaissance. This column argues that the renaissance will unfold in new, unexpected ways. Manufacturing value added will continue to rise, but the impact on jobs will be muted – particularly for the unskilled. A range of innovations has opened a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build new platforms, but better skills and new strategies will be needed.
Klaus Desmet, Ejaz Ghani, Stephen D O'Connell, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg , Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Will India’s rapid growth in the services sector lead to overcrowding of its cities? This column compares India’s experience to that of other countries.
Ejaz Ghani, Monday, January 23, 2012
Mention China and India to economists and their first thought will be rapid growth. Their second thought might be how differently the two economies are achieving this: China through manufacturing, India through services. This column asks whether that stereotype may be changing.
Thibault Fally, Tuesday, January 10, 2012
As the oft-cited iPhone example illustrates, production has become increasingly fragmented across countries. This column presents recent research, however, suggesting that this trend may be reversing for manufacturing plants in the US. It shows that intermediate goods account for a decreasing fraction of output value, while industries that are closer to the final consumer contribute to an increasing share of GDP.
Dani Rodrik, Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Poor countries have access to world markets and rich countries’ technologies. In principle, they should catch up. Yet the record belies this expectation. But this column argues labour productivity in manufacturing displays a clear tendency towards convergence, unconditional on the countries’ institutions or policies. The policies that matter for growth are thus those that bear on the reallocation of labour from nonconvergence to convergence activities.
Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri, Greg C Wright, Thursday, November 18, 2010
Manufacturing production and employment in the US has been in decline over recent decades, often with the finger pointed at immigration and globalisation. This column presents evidence from the US between 2000 and 2007 to show that immigrant and native workers are more likely to compete against offshoring than against each other. Moreover, offshoring's productivity gains can spur greater demand for native workers.
Michael J Ferrantino, Danielle Trachtenberg, Alison Weingarden, Thursday, August 5, 2010
Can increasing US exports create US jobs? Manufactures dominate US exports, but US manufacturing employment is declining. This column suggests that increased US exports are unlikely to lead to dramatic manufacturing employment gains, but employment in related services sectors may improve.
Adrian Wood, Jörg Mayer, Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Did China’s engagement with the global economy de-industrialise other developing countries? This column uses a factor-endowment approach to assess the magnitude of its impact. China’s opening to trade diminished labour-intensive manufacturing in other developing economies, primarily in East Asia, but its impact was not massive, and other developments often swamped its influence.
Lorenzo Casaburi, Valeria Gattai, G. Alfredo Minerva, Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Recent studies have shown that globalisation creates winning and losing firms within the same sector. This column summarises evidence from Italy describing important differences between domestic firms and offshorers. Firms going abroad are larger, but not all modes of offshoring are equal.
Arvind Panagariya, Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Historically, successful development has involved exporting labour-intensive manufactures. Despite opening up to the world economy in many respects, India’s policies continue to retard the expansion of labour-intensive sectors. Here is a discussion of how India could speed its transition to a modern economy.
Arik Levinson, Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Since the 1970s, US manufacturing output has risen by 70% but air pollution has fallen by 58%. Was this due to improved abatement technology or shifting dirty production abroad?