Working Papers

2021-21 | September 2021


Productivity Slowdown: Reducing the Measure of Our Ignorance


Growth accounting suggests that the bulk of the post-2004 slowdown in output growth in the U.S. is attributed to a residual called TFP. In this paper we provide a tractable accounting framework with firm heterogeneity to link this residual to innovations, markup dispersion, and potential measurement errors. Theories of creative destruction offer rich testable predictions of how the quality upgrading of products, the process efficiency of different firms, and markup dispersion in the market interact and therefore constitute a key approach to shed light on the slowdown in TFP growth. Surveying the literature on measurement, we conclude that measurement errors is unlikely to explain the recent deceleration in TFP growth.

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Article Citation

Boppart, Timo, and Huiyu Li. 2021. "Productivity Slowdown: Reducing the Measure of Our Ignorance," Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper 2021-21. Available at