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Global Productivity Slowdown Moderated in 2013 – 2014 May See Better Performance

The global economy witnessed a deceleration in labor productivity growth for the third consecutive year. Yet, compared to the intensity of the slowdown in previous years, the 2013 decline was modest. Labor productivity growth, measured as the average change in output per person employed, declined from 3.9 percent in 2010 to 2.6 percent in 2011, 1.8 percent in 2012, and 1.7 percent in 2013.

The moderation in the productivity decline is mainly the result of a stabilization of productivity growth rates in mature economies at 0.9 percent. Labor productivity growth in the United States remained at 0.9 percent in 2013. Europe even saw some improvement in output per person employed—from 0.1 percent in 2012 to 0.5 percent in 2013 (for the Euro Area from −0.1 percent in 2012 to 0.4 percent in 2013)—as the output contraction due to the recession abated. However, emerging economies saw a further slowdown in productivity growth (even if their overall rate was relatively strong compared to mature economies) as a result of weaker growth performance in some of the larger economies, such as China, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Overall, labor productivity growth in emerging and developing economies slowed from 3.7 percent in 2012 to 3.3 percent in 2013.

One dramatic result from this year’s estimates in The Conference Board Total Economy Database is that the growth rate of total factor productivity, which measures the productivity of labor and capital together, is less than zero for the global economy. This indicates a stalling in the efficiency of optimally allocating and using resources. This stalling appears to be the result of slowing demand in recent years, which caused a drop in productive use of resources that is possibly related to a combination of market rigidities and stagnating innovation.

For 2014, we may expect a moderate improvement in global labor productivity growth to 2.3 percent (up from 1.7 percent in 2013), mainly as a result of improved growth performance in mature economies (up to 1.5 percent in 2014 from 0.9 percent in 2013). Also, emerging and developing economies may see a moderate improvement in productivity growth. However, at 3.6 percent in 2014, their growth rates will stabilize at much lower levels than experienced during the first decade of the century, when productivity growth rates ranged between 5 and 7 percent.

What is TED

The Conference Board Total Economy Database, (TED) is a comprehensive database with annual data covering GDP, population, employment, hours, labor quality, capital services, labor productivity, and total factor productivity for about 123 countries in the world.TED was developed by the Groningen Growth and Development Centre (University of Groningen, The Netherlands) in the early 1990s, and starting in the late 1990s, it was produced in partnership with The Conference Board. As of 2007, the database was transferred from the University of Groningen to The Conference Board, which has maintained and extended the database since then. In January 2010, the database was extended with a module on sources of growth, including labor quantity and quality, capital services (non-ICT and ICT), and total factor productivity. The extended module aims to integrate two previous data sets: the world economy productivity data set created by Dale Jorgenson and Khuong Vu of Harvard University and the Total Economy Growth Accounting Database of the Groningen Growth and Development Centre.


The Conference Board Total Economy Database, which includes data for 123 countries from 1950 onwards, consists of the following series:

These countries represent about 97 percent of the world population and, as smaller and poorer countries in particular are not yet included in the database, the sample represents an even larger share of the world GDP (99 percent).


The Conference Board Total Economy Database, is published every year in January, providing preliminary estimates for the previous year and projections for the current year. The main results are published in The 2014 Productivity Brief. The series in the database are also used by the International Labor Office for their Key Indicators of the Labor Market (Chapter 17), and by the Department of Commerce in the Statistical Abstract of the United States.


Abdul Azeez Erumban
Senior Economist
Economics Department


Downloadable Files

All downloadable files, including all data series in the Total Economy Database (“TED”) are protected by United States and international copyright laws and The Conference Board, Inc. reserves all rights afforded to it under the law. All series must be cited as: “The Conference Board Total Economy Database, January 2014,” These data are made available for personal, non-commercial analysis purposes only, and not for reproduction, redistribution, resale, publication, databasing, public posting, creation of derivative works, or any other use without the express written permission of The Conference Board, Inc.

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