November 2007

The Contribution of Multinational Corporations to U.S. Productivity Growth, 1977-2000

Carol Corrado, Paul Lengermann, and Larry Slifman


In this paper, we decompose aggregate labor productivity growth in order to gauge the relative importance of multinational corporations (MNCs) to the economic performance of the United States in the 1990s. As we define it, the MNC sector refers to the U.S. activities of multinational corporations operating in the United States. We develop productivity estimates for MNCs using (1) published and unpublished industry-level data from two surveys conducted by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and (2) productivity data for industries and major sectors from the FRB productivity system (Bartelsman and Beaulieu 2003, 2004). The resulting MNC sector accounted for about 40 percent of the gross product of all nonfinancial corporations and all of the pickup in nonfinancial corporate labor productivity in the late 1990s. Accordingly, the MNC sector accounted for more than half of the acceleration in labor productivity growth of all U.S. nonfarm private businesses.

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Keywords: Productivity, multinational corporations, nonfinancial corporations

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