The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Slow productivity growth has plagued the euro area since the mid-1990s. That is particularly striking in view of the large productivity gains in the United States during the same period. This paper shows that the deceleration in labor productivity in the euro area was caused by structural changes in wage formation that have affected the relative price of labor, increased the labor intensity of growth and, thus, reduced the rate of capital deepening. Technological shocks seem to have played a minor role in explaining slower productivity growth in the euro area. In addition, a surge in capital deepening and, mainly, TFP growth in key service industries in the United States explain a large part of the productivity growth gap between the two regions in the second half of the 1990s.