The measurement and decomposition of economy-wide productivity growth
: assessing the accuracy and selecting between different approaches

  • Dimitris Giraleas

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Productivity at the macro level is a complex concept but also arguably the most appropriate measure of economic welfare. Currently, there is limited research available on the various approaches that can be used to measure it and especially on the relative accuracy of said approaches. This thesis has two main objectives: firstly, to detail some of the most common productivity measurement approaches and assess their accuracy under a number of conditions and secondly, to present an up-to-date application of productivity measurement and provide some guidance on selecting between sometimes conflicting productivity estimates.
With regards to the first objective, the thesis provides a discussion on the issues specific to macro-level productivity measurement and on the strengths and weaknesses of the three main types of approaches available, namely index-number approaches (represented by Growth Accounting), non-parametric distance functions (DEA-based Malmquist indices) and parametric production functions (COLS- and SFA-based Malmquist indices). The accuracy of these approaches is assessed through simulation analysis, which provided some interesting findings. Probably the most important were that deterministic approaches are quite accurate even when the data is moderately noisy, that no approaches were accurate when noise was more extensive, that functional form misspecification has a severe negative effect in the accuracy of the parametric
approaches and finally that increased volatility in inputs and prices from one period to the next adversely affects all approaches examined. The application was based on the EU KLEMS (2008) dataset and revealed that the different approaches do in fact result in different productivity change estimates, at least for some of the countries assessed. To assist researchers in selecting between
conflicting estimates, a new, three step selection framework is proposed, based on findings of simulation analyses and established diagnostics/indicators. An application of this framework is also provided, based on the EU KLEMS dataset.
Date of Award5 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aston University
SupervisorAli Emrouznejad (Supervisor) & Emmanuel Thanassoulis (Supervisor)


  • data envelopment analysis
  • stochastic frontier analysis
  • growth accounting
  • Monte Carlo simulations

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