Designed to be consistent across countries, international comparisons of productivity are measures that allow the UK economy's performance to be assessed against both that of other nations and domestic objectives. This is particularly of interest to the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) and HM Treasury (HMT), which assess these series when determining the UK's progress against their Public Service Agreement productivity target. Understanding how international comparisons of productivity are estimated is important when considering what progress is being made.
This is an area in which the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also carries out a great deal of work. OECD compiles productivity statistics for member countries to monitor economic performance, analyse labour and product market rigidities, and generally use productivity as an input to econometric models and forecasting.
This chapter discusses the various international comparisons of productivity, their purpose and limitations. It includes a section provided by the OECD which gives their perspective on productivity comparisons. There is also a section on the International Comparisons of Productivity First Release produced by ONS, with detail on data, methodology and some recent results. The chapter ends with a description of the ongoing EU KLEMS (Capital, Labour, Energy, Materials and Services) project, which aims to produce an international growth accounts database for EU countries. This section provides background to the project, some interim results and discusses future work.