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Appears in Collections:Economics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Labour productivity during the Great Depression and the Great Recession in UK engineering and metal manufacture
Author(s): Hart, Robert A
Keywords: Skills
Occupational Choice
Labor Productivity
Issue Date: Apr-2022
Date Deposited: 4-Oct-2021
Citation: Hart RA (2022) Labour productivity during the Great Depression and the Great Recession in UK engineering and metal manufacture. Oxford Economic Papers, 74 (2), pp. 431-452.
Abstract: This article compares UK labour productivity during the Great Depression (GD) and the Great Recession (GR) in engineering, metal working, and allied industries. Over the downturn of the GD cycle, hourly labour productivity was countercyclical. Over the GR downturn, hourly productivity was procyclical. The combined flexibility of workers and hours, together with short-run diminishing returns, is argued to be the main drivers behind the GD productivity outcomes. There was less workers and hours responsiveness in the GR downturn. These differences are linked to educational and human capital arguments. Employers’ real-wage costs feature importantly in both depressions. In the GD, real hourly product wages rose steeply serving to encourage shorter work weeks, which produced positive impacts on average hourly labour productivity. Unusually, high-labour supply pressures in the GR acted to reduce real hourly product wages serving to protect the jobs of less efficient workers and to lower average hourly labour productivity.
DOI Link: 10.1093/oep/gpab026
Rights: © Oxford University Press 2021. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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