Measuring productivity

Productivity describes various measures of the efficiency of production. Often (yet not always), a productivity measure is expressed as the ratio of aggregate output to a single input or an aggregate input used in a production process, i.e. output per unit of input, typically over a specific period of time. The most common example is the (aggregate) labour productivity measure, e.g., such as GDP per worker. There are many different definitions of productivity (including those that are not defined as ratios of output to input) and the choice among them depends on the purpose of the productivity measurement and/or data availability. The key source of difference between various productivity measures is also usually related (directly or indirectly) to how the outputs and the inputs are aggregated into scalars to obtain such a ratio-type measure of productivity.

Productivity is a crucial factor in the production performance of firms and nations. Increasing national productivity can raise living standards because more real income improves people’s ability to purchase goods and services, enjoy leisure, improve housing and education and contribute to social and environmental programs. Productivity growth can also help businesses to be more profitable.