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Cómo entender el acertijo de la productividad

LONDRES – En todas las principales economías, el llamado acertijo de la productividad sigue desconcertando a los economistas y a los responsables de las políticas: la producción por hora es significativamente más baja de lo que habría sido si la tendencia de crecimiento previa a 2008 hubiera continuado. Las cifras son duras, particularmente en el Reino Unido, pero también en toda la OCDE. Y si bien huelga decir que los economistas tienen muchas explicaciones ingeniosas que ofrecer, ninguna todavía ha demostrado ser lo suficientemente persuasiva para generar consenso.

Según la Oficina de Estadísticas Nacionales del Reino Unido, la producción por hora en Francia fue 14% más baja en 2015 de lo que habría sido si se hubiera alcanzado la tasa de crecimiento que antes era normal. La producción fue 9% más baja en Estados Unidos y 8% menor en Alemania, que siguió siendo el país de mejor desempeño entre las economías desarrolladas, aunque solamente en términos relativos. Si esta nueva tasa de crecimiento más baja persiste, en 2021 los ingresos promedio en Estados Unidos serán 16% inferiores de lo que habrían sido si Estados Unidos hubiera mantenido el alza de productividad anual de aproximadamente el 2% experimentada desde 1945.

El Reino Unido exhibe un caso particularmente crónico del síndrome. La productividad británica estuvo 9% por debajo del promedio de la OCDE en 2007; en 2015, la brecha se había ampliado al 18%. Sorprendentemente, la productividad por hora del Reino Unido está un 35% por debajo del nivel alemán, y 30% por debajo del de Estados Unidos. Inclusive los franceses podrían alcanzar la producción del trabajador promedio británico en una semana, y tomándose el viernes libre. Parecería que, además de los factores que afectan a todas las economías desarrolladas, el Reino Unido exhibe una gestión particularmente endeble.

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