Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 May 2022 04:03

Nyanko wrote:
01 May 2022 20:14
For example, for Germany and the UK, the index is made by aggregating the outputs of the following categories for which I was able to dig time series for both countries:

Artillery ammo (& mortar)
Bombs
Combat Aircraft
Guns
Tanks
Major naval vessels
Rifles
Machine pistols
Machine guns
Locomotives
That sounds like a really significant achievement but it's hard to respond without being able to check the math/figures.

Are you planning to publish it somewhere or, if not, would you be able to share the underlying figures?

I've had it in mind to do some of this work myself...
Nyanko wrote:Billions RM -- 1940 - 1941 - 1942 - 1943 - 1944
Germany ----- 4.23 -- 4.71 -- 7.05 -- 11.51 -- 14.99
UK ------------- 2.98 -- 4.57 -- 6.40 -- 7.00 -- 7.00
Billions US dollars -- 1940 - 1941 - 1942 - 1943 - 1944
Germany ------------- 2.46 -- 2.71 -- 4.12 -- 6.66 -- 8.47
UK -------------------- 1.78 -- 2.74 -- 3.91 -- 4.22 -- 4.23
The effect is small but RM figures tend to favor Germany's output more. This might suggest a "real" RM inflation that the typical figures don't fully capture. That wouldn't be surprising but, again, it's hard to respond without knowing what went into the numbers.

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Among many aspects I'd wonder about, how do you treat qualitative differences in set quantities? Do 1,000 P-47's equate to 1,000 Me-109's? Does a Sherman equate to a Panther? Weight is one way to do it but then what about the relative sophistication of each weapon?
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Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by Nyanko » 03 May 2022 21:17

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
02 May 2022 04:03
Nyanko wrote:
01 May 2022 20:14
For example, for Germany and the UK, the index is made by aggregating the outputs of the following categories for which I was able to dig time series for both countries:

Artillery ammo (& mortar)
Bombs
Combat Aircraft
Guns
Tanks
Major naval vessels
Rifles
Machine pistols
Machine guns
Locomotives
That sounds like a really significant achievement but it's hard to respond without being able to check the math/figures.

Are you planning to publish it somewhere or, if not, would you be able to share the underlying figures?

I've had it in mind to do some of this work myself...
This effort started about 10 years ago when I computed data for German and Soviet ammunition production/consumption. Then in more recent years, I decided to make estimates of munitions output and military expenditures.

I will organize the spreadsheets and put them in an open google doc.
Nyanko wrote:Billions RM -- 1940 - 1941 - 1942 - 1943 - 1944
Germany ----- 4.23 -- 4.71 -- 7.05 -- 11.51 -- 14.99
UK ------------- 2.98 -- 4.57 -- 6.40 -- 7.00 -- 7.00
Billions US dollars -- 1940 - 1941 - 1942 - 1943 - 1944
Germany ------------- 2.46 -- 2.71 -- 4.12 -- 6.66 -- 8.47
UK -------------------- 1.78 -- 2.74 -- 3.91 -- 4.22 -- 4.23
The effect is small but RM figures tend to favor Germany's output more. This might suggest a "real" RM inflation that the typical figures don't fully capture. That wouldn't be surprising but, again, it's hard to respond without knowing what went into the numbers.
The economic reasoning is that measuring output in RM would tend to inflate UK's output since at German-relative prices you expect the Germans to produce more of the cheap stuff and less of the expensive stuff, while different countries would have different relative prices and so their output would not conform to the same constraints and be more valued at German prices.

Overall, however, relative American and German prices were surprisingly close, and typically estimates made one of the other prices didn't change the overall value by more than 5% for any of the 5 countries (Germany, UK, USSR, US, and Japan).
Among many aspects I'd wonder about, how do you treat qualitative differences in set quantities? Do 1,000 P-47's equate to 1,000 Me-109's? Does a Sherman equate to a Panther? Weight is one way to do it but then what about the relative sophistication of each weapon?
I measured everything in terms of weight when available: ammunition, bombs, aircraft, tanks, trucks, and locomotives.

I just measured the weights of aircraft and tanks by the empty weight of each model and I multiplied the quantities of models produced each year. However, for aircraft, I also considered another factor: bigger aircraft tend to be cheaper in proportion to their weight, for example, in 1942 a Me-109 cost about 88,000 RM while a Ju-88 cost 240,000 RM, slightly less than 3 times more but weighed 4 times as much.

Japanese and Soviet aircraft were on average lighter than German aircraft while British and American aircraft are on average heavier. So I adjusted the value of aircraft according to a formula that takes into consideration the weight as well. For example, by weight British production from 1941 to 1944 was 1.23 times German production, by value, it was 1.07 times. By weight, American production was ca. 10 times Japanese production, by value, it was "only" 7 times. By number, it was only 4 times smaller than American production, as Japanese aircraft were mostly light single-engine types.

Another thing to keep in mind is that I only included combat-related related aircraft in the index calculation, so I excluded training and transport aircraft which were a bigger part of US and UK production than in the case of Germany and the USSR.

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Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 04 May 2022 03:51

Nyanko wrote:
03 May 2022 21:17
I will organize the spreadsheets and put them in an open google doc.
That would be amazing. Thank you.
Nyanko wrote:]Overall, however, relative American and German prices were surprisingly close, and typically estimates made one of the other prices didn't change the overall value by more than 5% for any of the 5 countries (Germany, UK, USSR, US, and Japan).
Agreed, just noting a small consistent difference that seems interesting.
Nyanko wrote:I measured everything in terms of weight when available: ammunition, bombs, aircraft, tanks, trucks, and locomotives.
Reasonable.
Nyanko wrote:for aircraft, I also considered another factor: bigger aircraft tend to be cheaper in proportion to their weight, for example, in 1942 a Me-109 cost about 88,000 RM while a Ju-88 cost 240,000 RM, slightly less than 3 times more but weighed 4 times as much.
I did some analysis of this on the US side here. US Heavy Bombers were ~27% less expensive per pound than US fighters.

Image

The P-47 is odd in being both the heaviest 1E fighter of the war and the heaviest per pound. Great plane but definitely not cheap. On par with the cost of Ju-88. It's feasibly 5x the cost of Me-109 in 1944.
Nyanko wrote:Another thing to keep in mind is that I only included combat-related related aircraft in the index calculation, so I excluded training and transport aircraft which were a bigger part of US and UK production than in the case of Germany and the USSR.
True. As my above table details, however, trainers were light and cheap per pound. Vast majority were very simple aircraft with no weapons or sophisticated electronics.

------------------------------

Why include locomotives but exclude trucks? The latter is a big force multiplier on the battlefield, conferring tactical and operational mobility (plus obvious logistical value). That choice somewhat favors Germany, who built tons of locos but relatively fewer trucks than the Allies.

Another factor I'd love to quantify at some point is relative spend on fortifications. The French portion of the Atlantic Wall cost 3.5bn RM or something like 70,000 Me-109's at 1943 prices. Add Germany's expenditures on other fortifications (Ostwall/Panther, non-France Atlantic, Aegean), plus maybe on their domestic industrial fortifications, it's a huge piece of the comparative puzzle.
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Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by Nyanko » 23 May 2022 21:20

I linked the spreadsheet with the results here, normalized to American munitions output according to Goldsmith's estimate:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing
Overall my estimate does not differ a lot from Goldsmith. The biggest difference is that Soviet output is 10% lower while German output is 10% higher, I think this is due to my inclusion of ammunition for the index. I plan to upload the data used in the construction of the indexes in the near future.

I have made some adjustments to my calculations, I also decided to exclude the output of ships, trucks, and locomotives (which were only entered in the computation of certain countries' munitions indexed) because this is an index of combat-related munitions. I should note that due to the data availability, I included more data in constructing the munitions indexes of certain countries than others.

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Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 May 2022 07:24

Nyanko wrote:
23 May 2022 21:20
I linked the spreadsheet with the results here, normalized to American munitions output according to Goldsmith's estimate:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing
Overall my estimate does not differ a lot from Goldsmith. The biggest difference is that Soviet output is 10% lower while German output is 10% higher, I think this is due to my inclusion of ammunition for the index. I plan to upload the data used in the construction of the indexes in the near future.
Thanks, Nyanko. Looking forward to digging into the data a bit more.

One significant difference is Germany's trendline. 1944 is 2.8x 1940 per Goldsmith but 3.9x per you. That's a dramatic difference.

Another is US's 1943-44 trendline, where you show a much bigger increase in American production than does Goldsmith.

Impossible to tell without the underlying data but it's probably related to excluding transportation items. German truck production increase relatively little throughout the war, while train production declined during 1943 and was quite low in 1944. American shipbuilding peaked in '43 and declined in '44. "Combat munitions" continued increasing, which your index (probably) shows.

Germany outproduces SU per you but not per Goldsmith. This is harder to explain, as Germany was producing a lot of trucks/trains while SU was getting nearly all of them via LL.
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Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by ljadw » 24 May 2022 19:57

The claim that in 1943 the German train production declined and was very low in 1944 ,is not correct .
From Kreidler ''Die Eisenbahnen im Zweiten Weltkrieg P 339 ''.
Production of steam locs
1940 979
1941 1393
1942 2159
1943 4533
1944 3063
Of Good Wagons ,same years
25456
43074
43119
51969
34725
It is also meaningless as a higher production of locs and wagons does not mean that more goods are transported.
From the same source P 336 :
The Reichsbahn transported
in 1940 619 million ton
in 1941 656,1 million ton
in 1942 638,8 million ton
in 1943 675,1 million ton
in 1944 625 million ton
In 1942 more locs and wagons were produced and less goods were transported .

Last point : during the war years trucks transported more good tonnage than railways .No information is available for 1944 .
i

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