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Human capital and productivity growth in a services economy: Some insights from the Portuguese case

Marta Simões (), Maria Adelaide Duarte () and João Andrade ()

International Economics and Economic Policy, 2019, vol. 16, issue 3, No 4, 534 pages

Abstract: Abstract Has the Portuguese economy benefited from tertiarization in terms of aggregate productivity performance? Did human capital availability play a role in this expansion of the services sector? To answer these two research questions, we investigate the existence of causality among services sector expansion, human capital, and aggregate productivity for the period 1970–2006 in the Portuguese economy based on the estimation of VAR models and impulse response analysis. We distinguish between the contributions of five different services sub-sectors that can be broadly classified as either traditional personal services or modern progressive services. The evidence suggests bi-directional causality between services sub-sectors employment shares and aggregate productivity. Across services sub-sectors, community social and personal services, that include health care and education activities, seem to be the most influential sector, followed by finance, insurance, real estate and business services, making both a positive and lasting contribution to aggregate productivity. Although only indicative, this evidence points to the relatively low weight of modern progressive services sectors in Portugal, together with a relatively less important role for some traditional personal services sub-sectors that can be sources of human capital, as candidate explanations for the slowdown in aggregate productivity growth over the period under analysis. The causality analysis did not allow us to confirm the role of human capital in driving the expansion of services subsectors, although the impulse response analysis points to a positive impact on aggregate productivity and the expansion of finance, insurance, real estate and business services and community social and personal services.

Keywords: Traditional services; Modern services; Human capital; Productivity growth; Portugal; VAR; GIR (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L80 O14 O15 O52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s10368-019-00439-0

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