Productivity is an average measure of the efficiency of production. It can be expressed as the ratio of output to inputs used in the production process, i.e. output per unit of input. When all outputs and inputs are included in the productivity measure it is called total productivity.
Outputs and inputs are defined in the total productivity measure as their economic values. The value of outputs minus the value of inputs is a measure of the income generated in a production process. It is a measure of total efficiency of a production process and as such the objective to be maximized in production process.
In macroeconomics the approach is different. In macroeconomics one wants to examine an entity of many production processes and the output is obtained by summing up the value-added created in the single processes. This is done in order to avoid the double accounting of intermediate inputs.
Value-added is obtained by subtracting the intermediate inputs from the outputs. The most well-known and used measure of value-added is the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). It is widely used as a measure of the economic growth of nations and industries. GDP is the income available for paying capital costs, labour compensation, taxes and profits.
For a single input this means the ratio of output (value-added) to input. When multiple inputs are considered, such as labour and capital, it means the unaccounted for level of output compared to the level of inputs. This measure is called in macroeconomics Total Factor Productivity TFP or Multi Factor Productivity MFP.
Productivity is a crucial factor in 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 also helps businesses to be more profitable.
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