Research Seminar: ‘The UK Productivity Puzzle’, 4 November

Dr Alex Bryson, National Institute of Economic and Social Research

3.00 to 4.30 pm, Tuesday 4 November 2014, Room 709a, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H OAL


The era of sustained economic growth enjoyed in the UK for nearly two decades was reversed almost overnight with the 2008 banking crisis.  Stock market crashes throughout the world were precipitated by investor uncertainty, firms suffered from sudden credit tightening, and demand for goods and services started falling.  Whilst many of these immediate responses to the banking crisis were common across the world, each country faced specific difficulties due to differences in the nature of their economies and institutions and the position they were in when the crisis hit.  The UK economy has performed particularly poorly in the intervening six years.  Output per head remains below its pre-recession peak due to a combination of remarkably sluggish GDP growth and higher-than-anticipated employment levels. This presentation reviews the literature on the UK’s productivity “puzzle”, examining some of the main culprits or suspects that may explain recent trends.  The second section contributes to the empirical literature by testing some hypotheses in new ways, in order to shed further light on patterns of productivity growth among British workplaces over the period 2004-2011. The third and final section looks to the future and comments on the prospects for UK productivity growth over the next decade or so.

Alex Bryson is Head of the Employment Group at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research where he has been working since October 2008.  He was previously Research Director at the Policy Studies Institute where he has worked for nineteen years.  He is also a Research Fellow at IZA, at Rutgers and at the Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.  His research focuses on industrial relations, labour economics and programme evaluation.  He is on the editorial board of the NIESR Economic Review and was previously an editor of the British Journal of Industrial Relations.   In 2005-2006 he was the Wertheim Fellow at the Harvard Law School and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The seminar is free to attend, but prior registration would be helpful: to register, please contact

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