Superman feat friends: Unpacking Australia’s productivity paradox

This year marks the 40-year anniversary of the first Superman film. Starring as Superman, Christopher Reeve fought foes and vanquished villains in an action-packed battle between good and evil.

Four decades on, Superman continues to feature in films, but often not alone.

He now stars alongside Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and other superheroes. For the fans of DC Comics, it is a delightful coming together of childhood favourites.

But for economists, it symbolises a worrying decline in productivity.

Superman needs help

Where once a single superhero was able to save the world, now two or more are required to complete the same task.

And as Oscar Wilde once said, life often imitates art.

Back when the first Superman film was released, average annual total factor productivity growth among advanced economies was almost 10 times what it fell to in 2016.

In Australia, it was three times higher in 1995-96 than in 2016-17.

Real wage growth has been close to zero in the past two years, in line with close to zero productivity growth.

But what is most striking about what has happened is when it has happened. The past 25 years have seen extraordinary advances in technology. Read more

Adam Triggs - SmartCompany - 14 November 2018

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