2015 April 05 Sunday
Comparing International GDP Per Hour Worked And Growth Rates

With the recent death of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew there has been a lot debate about whether Singapore is an exception due to his semi-dictatorial leadership and the values he promoted in Singaporean society. The real signal content in most of the commentary is quite low. So I went looking for data comparing industrialized countries over decades for per capita GDP per hour worked. We would need further controlling for natural resources, market size, intelligence levels, and other factors to really tease out how much each government adds or subtracts from economic growth rates and levels of productivity achieved. But the data below certainly allows knocking out some arguments pretty easily. From the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics real GDP per hour worked for 20 developed countries and rates of change over various time periods starting from 1960:

If you click through on the link you will also see GDP per person, GDP per person who works, and other measures. These measures must be approached very thoughtfully to minimize misinterpretations of the data. For example, a country that has less of the left half of the IQ bell curve working (e.g. because of welfare benefits for the less able) will have an inflated GDP per person who who works. For example, the United States has a huge difference in Employment-Population Ratio By Education Level and this boosts GDP per worker over a country that has more of its high school drop-outs working.

Real GDP per hour worked, by country, 19602011

Table 3a. Converted to U.S. dollars using 2011 PPPs (2011 U.S. dollars)

Country

1960 1979 1990 2000 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
United States NA 35.94 41.57 49.50 57.08 57.51 59.00 60.41 60.59
Canada NA 31.97 35.70 42.40 45.54 45.35 45.62 46.20 46.61
Australia NA 29.16 33.59 41.11 46.97 45.46 46.77 46.79 46.84
Japan NA 18.30 27.56 33.71 37.73 37.89 37.37 38.76 39.70
Republic of Korea NA NA 10.13 17.33 23.14 24.09 24.30 25.93 27.14
Singapore NA 13.73 22.50 33.50 41.17 38.51 36.70 40.88 41.27
Austria NA NA NA 43.86 49.82 50.03 49.79 50.83 51.45
Belgium NA 35.24 45.77 57.14 60.78 59.98 59.07 59.86 60.17
Czech Republic NA NA NA 20.95 29.35 29.46 29.00 29.79 30.55
Denmark NA 32.34 41.03 49.71 53.23 51.92 50.90 52.72 53.20
Finland NA 22.26 30.91 41.42 49.09 48.51 45.98 47.42 48.08
France NA 31.45 42.48 51.74 57.08 56.49 56.17 56.93 57.70
Germany NA 29.03 36.88 48.97 55.20 55.13 53.76 54.50 55.26
Ireland NA NA 32.37 50.15 59.39 59.45 62.53 64.83 66.74
Italy NA NA 37.57 43.57 44.46 44.17 43.15 44.28 44.43
Netherlands NA 39.27 46.68 53.17 59.44 59.49 58.06 59.35 59.49
Norway NA 44.88 58.44 77.06 84.50 81.68 81.70 81.61 81.47
Spain NA 27.90 38.11 42.71 44.66 45.01 46.25 47.32 48.13
Sweden NA NA 34.18 43.17 51.45 50.49 49.37 50.80 51.61
United Kingdom NA 23.27 30.15 39.93 46.96 46.32 45.81 46.40 46.82

NA = Not available.
Note: Data for Germany for years before 1991 pertain to the former West Germany.
PPPs = purchasing power parities.

Table 3b. Average annual rates of change

Country

1979-2011 1979-90 1990-00 2000-07 2007-11 2009-10 2010-11
United States 1.6 1.3 1.8 2.1 1.5 2.4 0.3
Canada 1.2 1.0 1.7 1.0 0.6 1.3 0.9
Australia 1.5 1.3 2.0 1.9 -0.1  0.1 0.1
Japan 2.4 3.8 2.0 1.6 1.3 3.7 2.4
Republic of Korea NA NA 5.5 4.2 4.1 6.7 4.6
Singapore 3.5 4.6 4.1 3.0 0.1 11.4  0.9
Austria NA NA NA 1.8 0.8 2.1 1.2
Belgium 1.7 2.4 2.2 0.9 -0.3  1.3 0.5
Czech Republic NA NA NA 4.9 1.0 2.7 2.6
Denmark 1.6 2.2 1.9 1.0 0.0 3.6 0.9
Finland 2.4 3.0 3.0 2.5 -0.5  3.1 1.4
France 1.9 2.8 2.0 1.4 0.3 1.4 1.4
Germany NA 2.2 NA 1.7 0.0 1.4 1.4
Ireland NA NA 4.5 2.4 3.0 3.7 2.9
Italy NA NA 1.5 0.3 0.0 2.6 0.3
Netherlands 1.3 1.6 1.3 1.6 0.0 2.2 0.2
Norway 1.9 2.4 2.8 1.3 -0.9  -0.1  -0.2 
Spain 1.7 2.9 1.1 0.6 1.9 2.3 1.7
Sweden NA NA 2.4 2.5 0.1 2.9 1.6
United Kingdom 2.2 2.4 2.9 2.3 -0.1  1.3 0.9

NA = Not available.
Note: Data for Germany for years before 1991 pertain to the former West Germany.
Percent changes were calculated using the compound rate method.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 April 05 11:33 AM 


Comments
Dan said at April 7, 2015 11:18 AM:

Good on Singapore. And remember that they were absorbing a huge influx of poor people along the way.

But focusing on Singapore makes LKY look like small potatoes. He is the master and the leaders of China from Deng were his pupils. I would be puffing him up absurdly to say that, except that it is apparently true.

http://thediplomat.com/2015/03/lee-kuan-yew-the-father-of-modern-china/


Post a comment
Comments:
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
URL:
Remember info?

      
 
Web parapundit.com
Go Read More Posts On ParaPundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright