New Economics Papers
on Efficiency and Productivity
Issue of 2008‒02‒16
eleven papers chosen by

  1. Assessing Hospital Efficiency: Non-parametric Evidence for Portugal By António Afonso; Sónia Fernandes
  2. Microeconomic Reform and Technical Efficiency in Australian Manufacturing By Neil Dias Karunaratne
  3. Explaining a productive decade By Stephen D. Oliner; Daniel E. Sichel.; Kevin J. Stiroh
  4. What Happens When Firms Patent? New Evidence from U.S. Economic Census Data By Natarajan Balasubramanian; Jagadeesh Sivadasan
  5. What Affects MFP in the Long-Run? Evidence from Canadian Industries By Danny Leung; Yi Zheng
  6. Railway reforms: Do they influence operating efficiency? By Mette Asmild; Torben Holvad; Jens Leth Hougaard; Dorte Kronborg
  7. Productivity and Unemployment in the Short and Long Run By Pu Chen, Armon Rezai and Willi Semmler
  8. Banking Crisis and Borrower Productivity By KOBAYASHI Keiichiro; YANAGAWA Noriyuki
  9. Efficiency in banking: theory, practice, and evidence By Joseph P. Hughes; Loretta J. Mester
  10. Do tutorial programmes influence the performance of Economics students? A case study of the Economics 178 course at Stellenbosch University By Pietie Horn; Ada Jansen
  11. Intra-firm wage inequality and firm performance – First evidence from German linked employer-employee-data By Nils Braakmann

  1. By: António Afonso; Sónia Fernandes
    Abstract: We compute DEA efficiency scores and Malmquist indexes for a panel data set comprising 68 Portuguese public hospitals belonging to the National Health System (NHS) in the period 2000-2005, when several units started being run in an entrepreneurial framework. With data on hospital services’ and resource quantities we construct an output distance function, we assess by how much can output quantities be proportionally expanded without changing input quantities Our results show that, on average, the NHS hospital sector revealed positive but small productivity growth between 2000 and 2004. The mean TFP indices vary between 0.917 and 1.109, implying some differences in the Malmquist indices across specifications. Furthermore, there are significant fluctuations among NHS hospitals in terms of individual efficiency scores from one year to the other.
    Keywords: Public hospitals; Data Envelopment Analysis; Malmquist indices; Portugal.
    JEL: C14 C61 D24 H51 I12
    Date: 2008–02
  2. By: Neil Dias Karunaratne (School of Economics, The University of Queensland)
    Abstract: The technical efficiency dividend reaped by Australian manufacturing industries following the implementation of microeconomic reforms over the past three decades is analysed empirically in this paper. The technical efficiency scores have been estimated for manufacturing industries using a combined stochastic production-frontier inefficiency model that is free of simultaneity bias. The model parameters have been estimated using maximum likelihood techniques using a panel data set covering a cross-section of 8 industries spanning a time-series of 26 years (1969-1995). The empirical results shed light on how technical inefficiency in manufacturing has been whittled down by the microeconomic reform induced trade liberalisation and technology diffusion processes. Generalised likelihood ratio tests reject the null hypotheses that trade liberalisation and technology transfer had no significant impact on the reduction of technical inefficiency. The reduction of effective rate of assistance and technical efficiency and technology proxies such as intra-industry trade and capital deepening are negatively correlated during the study period. These findings give credence to the predictions of endogenous growth theories that openness of the economy provides a conduit for accessing new technology that promotes innovation and technical efficiency. The increase in technical efficiency of manufacturing industries is the unsung hero behind the emergence of the 'new economy' or the spectacular pick-up of productivity growth observed for Australia during the 1990s. The error-correction modelling reported at the outset confirms that this productivity pick-up is not an artefact of a cyclical upturn. It is attributable to the microeconomic reforms and the technology transfer that has followed it. The paper concludes on the need for further research , first, to shed light on the constituents of total factor productivity such as technical change and technical progress and second, to design policy to address the challenging issues of equity-efficiency trade-off lest it degenerates into a back-lash that could nullify the whole reform agenda.
    Date: 2007
  3. By: Stephen D. Oliner; Daniel E. Sichel.; Kevin J. Stiroh
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the sources of U.S. productivity growth in recent years using both aggregate and industry-level data. We confirm the central role for information technology (IT) in the productivity revival during 1995-2000 and show that IT played a significant, though smaller, role after 2000. Productivity growth after 2000 appears to have been boosted by industry restructuring and cost cutting in response to profit pressures, an unlikely source of future strength. In addition, the incorporation of intangible capital into the growth accounting framework takes some of the luster off the performance of labor productivity since 2000 and makes the gain during 1995-2000 look larger than in the official data. Finally, we examine the outlook for trend growth in labor productivity; our estimate, though subject to much uncertainty, is centered at 2-1/4 percent a year, faster than the lackluster pace that prevailed before 1995 but somewhat slower than the 1995-2006 average.
    Date: 2007
  4. By: Natarajan Balasubramanian; Jagadeesh Sivadasan
    Abstract: In this study, we present novel statistics on the patenting in US manufacturing and new evidence on the question of what happens when firms patent. We do so by creating a comprehensive firm-patent matched dataset that links the NBER patent data (covering the universe of patents) to firm data from the US Census Bureau (which covers the universe of all firms with paid employees). Our linked dataset covers more than 48,000 unique assignees (compared to about 4,100 assignees covered by the Compustat-NBER link), representing almost two-thirds of all non-individual, non-university, non-government assignees from 1975 to 1997. We use the data to present some basic but novel statistics on the role of patenting in US manufacturing, including strong evidence confirming the highly skewed nature of patenting activity. Next, we examine what happens when firms patent by looking at a large sample of first time patentees. We find that while there are significant cross-sectional differences in size and total factor productivity between patentee firms and non-patentee firms, changes in patentownership status within firms is associated with a contemporaneous and substantial increase in firm size, but little to no change in total factor productivity. This evidence suggests that patenting is associated with firm growth through new product innovations (firm scope) rather than through reduction in the cost of producing existing products (firm productivity). Consistent with this explanation, we find that when firms patent, there is a contemporaneous increase in the number of products that the firms produce. Estimates of (within-firm) elasticity of firm characteristics to patent stock confirm our results. Our findings are robust to alternative measures of size and productivity, and to various sample selection criteria.
    Keywords: Innovation, productivity, new products, firm scope
    JEL: O30 O31 O34 O33 L25
    Date: 2008–01
  5. By: Danny Leung; Yi Zheng
    Abstract: In this paper we explore variables that may have an impact on multifactor productivity (MFP) in the long-run using the KLEMS database for Canada. We estimate a dynamic heterogeneous panel error-correction model of twelve 2-digit level industries. Variables investigated include ICT capital, outsourcing, competition, trade openness, public infrastructure, and R&D. Results suggest that over the 1976 - 2003 period ICT capital services, outsourcing and trade all had a positive impact on the level of industry MFP. The speed of adjustment varies significantly by industry.
    Keywords: Productivity
    JEL: C23 D24 O30
    Date: 2008
  6. By: Mette Asmild (Warwick Business School); Torben Holvad (European Railway Agency); Jens Leth Hougaard (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen); Dorte Kronborg (Copenhagen Business School)
    Abstract: This paper considers railway operations in 23 European countries during 1995-2001, where a series of reform initiatives were launched by the European Commission, and analyses whether these reform initiatives improved the operating efficiency of the railways. Efficiency is measured using Multi-directional Efficiency Analysis, which enables investigation of how railway reforms affect the inefficiencies of specific cost drivers. The main findings are that the reform initiatives generally improve operating efficiency but potentially differently for different cost drivers. Specifically, the paper provides clear empirical evidence that accounting separation is important for improving operating efficiency for both material and staff costs, whereas other reforms only influenced one of these factors.
    Keywords: European railways; reforms; operating efficiency; Multi-directional Efficiency Analysis (MEA)
    Date: 2008–02
  7. By: Pu Chen, Armon Rezai and Willi Semmler (New School for Social Research, New York, NY)
    Keywords: productivity; unemployment; employment
    Date: 2007–09–21
  8. By: KOBAYASHI Keiichiro; YANAGAWA Noriyuki
    Abstract: In this paper, we propose a theoretical model in which a banking crisis (or bank distress) causes declines in aggregate productivity. When borrowing firms need additional bank loans to continue their businesses, a high probability of bank failure discourages ex ante investments (e.g., R&D investment) by firms that enhance their productivity. In a general equilibrium setting, we also show that there may be multiple equilibria: one in which bank distress continues and borrower productivity is low, and in the other, banks are healthy and borrower productivity is high. We show that the bank capital requirement may be effective in eliminating the bad equilibrium and may lead the economy to the good equilibrium in which the productivity of borrowing firms and the aggregate output are both high and the probability of bank failure is low.
    Date: 2008–02
  9. By: Joseph P. Hughes; Loretta J. Mester
    Abstract: Great strides have been made in the theory of bank technology in terms of explaining banks’ comparative advantage in producing informationally intensive assets and financial services and in diversifying or offsetting a variety of risks. Great strides have also been made in explaining sub-par managerial performance in terms of agency theory and in applying these theories to analyze the particular environment of banking. In recent years, the empirical modeling of bank technology and the measurement of bank performance have begun to incorporate these theoretical developments and yield interesting insights that reflect the unique nature and role of banking in modern economies. This paper gives an overview of two general empirical approaches to measuring bank performance and discusses some of the applications of these approaches found in the literature.
    Keywords: Banks and banking - Research
    Date: 2008
  10. By: Pietie Horn (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University); Ada Jansen (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
    Abstract: The deteriorating performance of first-year Economics students has become a concern at many South African universities. Addressing the issue requires a thorough understanding of the factors influencing students’ success. Studies analysing academic performance usually use the education production function approach. This approach identifies inputs crucial to learning to achieve certain outputs. Factors that have been investigated in other studies include the impact of lecture attendance on performance, as well as other factors such as matric results (particularly performance in Mathematics), gender and the age of the student. This study adds to existing literature by analysing the impact of the tutorial programme as an input. The case study investigates the tutorial programme for first-year Economics students at Stellenbosch University (SU) using both a quantitative and qualitative analysis. Results confirm what previous studies have found, namely that lecture attendance, gender and matric results contribute positively to performance in first-year Economics. The main finding of the paper is that tutorial attendance also contributes positively to academic performance.
    Keywords: Tutor programme, Undergraduate, Academic performance
    JEL: A2 A22 A29
    Date: 2008
  11. By: Nils Braakmann (Institute of Economics, Leuphana University of Lüneburg)
    Abstract: Economic theory suggests both positive and negative relationships between intra- firm wage inequality and productivity. This paper contributes to the growing empirical literature on this subject. We combine German employer-employee-data for the years 1995-2005 with inequality measures using the whole wage distribution of a firm and rely on dynamic panel-data estimators to control for unobserved heterogeneity, simultaneity problems and possible state dependence. Our results indicate a relative minor influence of intra-firm wage inequality on firm productivity. If anything, they provide some support for a view suggesting that some inequality may be beneficial, while too much leads to a detrimental eect on productivity.
    Keywords: Wage dispersion, labor productivity
    JEL: J31 M52
    Date: 2008–02

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