Err, no love, just no

Workers in the public sector have become more productive since the Government began wielding the axe on the sector, according to the head of its independent fiscal watchdog.

Robert Chote, chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), said the financial crisis and subsequent spending cuts had made the civil service more efficient and forced people to “respond” to these changes by working harder.

“In terms of, has it made a difference to the way people perform their jobs, I’m sure it does,” he told The Telegraph.

According to official data, productivity in the public sector showed zero growth between 1997 and 2010, meaning the only way the Government has been able to increase productivity is by hiring more staff.

No m’dear. No productivity growth means no productivity growth. Hiring more people will increase output, production, but not productivity.

10 comments on “Err, no love, just no

  1. errr.. Yes hiring more people can improve productivity but not necessarily. What is your point exactly?

  2. @ bill faulty.
    But in this case there has been no increase in productivity. So Government hiring staff has not increased productivity.

  3. “productivity in the public sector showed zero growth between 1997 and 2010”

    and people wonder why all those civil servants had a problem getting a job when they were made redundant. A lot of them were as good as dinosaurs private sector.

    (we had a guy come for an interview who had spent 5 years working in a quango doing software and his methods were so far out of date that we’d have been better off hiring a trainee out of college)

  4. Not faulty at all. Mr Chote usually chooses his words carefully but if he has conflated the issues my apologies, but I’d be very surprised if he had. the article is just a click bait to attract hearsay and fallacy about the Civil Service.

  5. Public-sector productivity is measured on a 1:1 basis. Every £1 spent by government is assumed to generate £1 of value. Therefore the productivity can never increase or decrease, at least by the official metric.

    The article implies that the improved efficiency is Mr Chote’s personal opinion, rather than the OBR’s official analysis. So it’s not worth a damn.

  6. Surely the point here is that there was no growth in productivity from 1997 to 2010, but that there has been some since?

  7. Even on its own terms it’s a bit of a nonsense: productivity didn’t increase so the Government increased it by hiring? Bet she had a bit of a brain freeze and used the same word twice meaning different (and in the second case, incorrect) things. Done it myself, but I usually sub-edit my own work…

  8. … financial crisis and subsequent spending cuts had made the civil service more efficient and forced people to “respond” to these changes by working harder.

    Maybe, maybe not. any change will likely have a positive effect on productivity. See “Hawthorne Effect”.

  9. As Andrew M effectively points out, there is no way at least financially to measure public sector productivity. You could measure it in tractors etc.

  10. The (very basic) economics is that if you add workers to the same production process, that latent productivity (both marginal and average) will fall. The fact that productivity measured ex post stayed flat is an indicator that there was some modest improvement in total factor productivity (the part that’s important, and so hard to pin down).

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