positive impact / positive contribution

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gloria_taipei

Senior Member
Taiwan, Chinese
Hi all,

I have difficulty understanding the blue parts of the following sentences.

Even during the recent economic downturn, labour income growth among tertiary graduates generated a positive impact on GDP of more than half a percentage point per year (between 2008 and 2010). While GDP shrank by almost 4% across OECD countries in 2009, labour income growth among tertiary graduates still made a positive contribution to GDP of 0.4%.


I wonder if the first sentence means the labor income growth among tertiary graduates consisted of more than 0.5% of the GDP per year, or it helped increase the GDP by more than 5% per year.

I assume the second sentence indicates the same concept as the idea in the first sentence.

Can anyone help me? Thank you. :)

Source: How does education affect the economy? from Education at a Glance 2012 by OECD
 
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Could you make your highlight something other than blue -- bold, for example, or underline, or some other colour. I'm having difficulty figuring out what is what. Thank you.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    You're right in your suggestions. I think they're using "positive" for "impact" and "contribution" simply to eliminate the need to use a "+" sign in front of the figures. They're letting you know it's "plus" rather than "minus" -- and is just a more interesting way to say it. These types of business reports can be pretty dry without a little creative writing. :)

    generated a positive impact on GDP of more than half a percentage point per year
    generated growth in GDP of more than half a percentage point per year

    made a positive contribution to GDP of 0.4%.
    made a contribution to GDP of +0.4%.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    [...]
    generated a positive impact on GDP of more than half a percentage point per year
    generated growth in GDP of more than half a percentage point per year
    I'm not sure that this is very clear in the text in the OP. We must be careful to distinguish between a function and its first derivative, between height and slope.

    A positive impact on GDP of more than half a percentage point suggests to me that without this factor GDP would have been 0.5% less than it actually was. This isn't generating growth, necessarily, it's saying that GDP is higher than it would otherwise have been. We know that real GDP fell during the second part of the period we are considering.

    But the text says that it had a positive impact on GDP of more than half a percentage point a year. This is probably what caused Copyright to talk about growth even in a period of recession. It doesn't say a positive impact on GDP growth of more than half a percentage point a year which would have meant that growth would be 0.5% higher, or recession 0.5% less, than otherwise. That would be an absurdly large figure, of course, but if the writer means that GDP is 0.5% higher each year as a result of this growth, then this has no impact on GDP growth of course, any more than laying thicker concrete on a road on a hill makes it steeper.

    As it's talking about income growth among tertiary graduates, it's probably talking about growth in GDP, which can be negative, of course. The text should have made this clear.

    Gloria, you must be very careful to distingush between 0.5% and 5%, which is 10 times bigger. Some people confuse 0.5% and 50%, which is 100 times bigger.
     
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    gloria_taipei

    Senior Member
    Taiwan, Chinese
    Dear Thomas:

    Thank you very much for your opinion. I'll study more to understand the meaning of the sentences. And I'll be more careful about the percentage. Thank you very much for pointing that out. :)

    Best regards,
    Gloria
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Another possibility has occurred to me, and, in view of the order of the figures, it may be what the writer meant.

    The writer may have meant that 0.5% of the increase in GDP was caused by the increase in income growth in tertiary graduates.

    Thus we aren't talking about 0.5% of GDP, but 0.5% of the difference between GDP in one year and GDP in the next year.
     

    gloria_taipei

    Senior Member
    Taiwan, Chinese
    Dear Thomas:
    Thank you for thinking about my questions. :) I think I understand what you mean. I'll see if I can find more information about the figures to figure out which interpretation is correct.

    Best regards,
    Gloria
     
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