historygeek2021 wrote:Tooze confirms that US labor productivity was much higher than that of Germany (p. 971).
I wasn't claiming that Tooze's article challenges Broadberry's. Rather, Tooze's article points out that Broadberry's thesis sparked a long-running debate on the topic. Your 1993 article is only the first in a 15-year debate. Again, no idea how that debate plays out. I might get around to reading it; will report back if I do. Some of the relevant articles highlighted below:
Earlier I raised the Tooze article as further evidence that the US mass production versus German craft production narrative (in WW2) must at least be complicated. Tooze's detailed description of machine tool stocks shows wartime convergence, albeit with German firms over-investing in general purpose machine tools as a likely hedge against postwar inflation, and perhaps in anticipation of postwar return to normal capital patterns.
historygeek2021 wrote:The USA's productivity advantage was particularly pronounced in the production of metal products, where the USA was close to triple the productivity of Germany:
Table 6 gives US:UK
ratio of 289.1 in 1935/7; Table 7 gives a Germany:UK ratio of 119.7. Therefore a US: Germany ratio of 2.42.
A data set that doesn't cover WW2 - i.e. Broadberry's - will not tell us anything that happened during WW2. As the Broadberry article compares the late '30's and mid '40's, it misses intrawar patterns entirely.
KDF33 has produced compelling evidence that Germany:US labor productivity varied enormously during the war; his data
show Germany:US productivity ratio varying between .90 (Feb '43) and .33 (Feb '44). If KDF33's trend
is correct, as well as Broadberry's post-WW2 ratio of 2.42, then midwar German productivity was up to ~88% of American ( .33 / .9 * 2.42 ). KDF's data endpoints align very neatly with Broadberry's immediate postwar numbers.
You don't need to agree with KDF33's absolute values to recognize the existence of massive variance and a remarkable trend here. A factor that, again, Broadberry's article/data can't even claim to address.
Is there a plausible story that explains KDF33's picture of German productivity converging towards American during midwar, then rapidly plummeting in ratio to US? Yes, absolutely there is:
Pre- and postwar America did what it did better than anyone: it mass-produced consumer goods like cars and refrigerators that were relatively simple, large, and expensive. Wartime America, however, lost part of its comparative advantage when it switched to relatively sophisticated military/producer goods like airplanes and ships, for which mass production is not ideal. This caused US-Germany productivity convergence that is apparent in mid-war stats. From early '43 onwards, however, bombing effects and labor force degradation caused German productivity to plummet, relative to American (and in the aircraft case, a German shift to fighters in '44 further complicates the data). By war's end, these dynamics had caused Germany to lose her relative wartime productivity gains.
Do I think 88-90% of American productivity is the "true" German norm? No, that's probably a bit high. German factories were farther along the learning curve at the early '43 relative peak than were American. But very clearly 30% or 40% German "true" wartime
productivity is too low.
TMP bookmark: German/US productivity: intrawar versus peacetime differential