Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Australia’s productivity: some insights from productivity analysis

By Jenny Gordon

Since the turn of the century, multifactor productivity has stagnated. Australia’s income growth was supported until recent years by strong growth in the terms of trade and investment, but the terms of trade have been falling since 2011, and investment is slowing. To maintain at least the modest growth rate of the last decade, long term multifactor productivity growth needs to recover. The last decade or so has seen productivity challenges arising from natural resource depletion, as new mines were more costly to develop, and as technological replacements for environmental services, such as desalinisation plants, were increasingly introduced. Lags in the time required to bring major investments online also contributed to the poor performance. More broadly, shifts in tastes and technology have delivered quality improvements to consumers without increases in price commensurate to the additional inputs required, a trend that dampens nominal GDP growth and measured productivity.

(Photo: Etienne Girardet on flickr)


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