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The Anglo-German productivity puzzle, 1895-1935: a restatement and a possible resolution

Ritschl, Albrecht (2008) The Anglo-German productivity puzzle, 1895-1935: a restatement and a possible resolution. Economic History Working Papers (108/08). Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Recent research on international productivity comparisons has focused on the discrepancies between benchmark comparisons and time series extrapolations from other benchmarks. For a 1907 benchmark, Stephen Broadberry and Carsten Burhop (2007) find German manufacturing to be only slightly ahead of Britain. Their backward extrapolation from a broader 1935 benchmark is consistent with their 1907 benchmark, provided that a traditional but disputed industrial production series of Walther Hoffmann (1965) is used. If they instead employ a revised series by Ritschl (2004), they obtain an implausibly high productivity lead of 50 percent, evidence that they therefore discard. The present paper revisits this Anglo-German productivity puzzle and suggests a resolution. Drawing on Rainer Fremdling and Reiner Staeglin (2003), I present further revisions to Germany’s industrial production series. I also calculate a revised 1907 productivity benchmark. Both the revised extrapolation and the revised benchmark indicate that on the eve of World War I, German manufacturing productivity was clearly ahead of Britain.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 Albrecht Ritschl
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2009 18:30
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:45

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