Question


In virtually any industry, technological improvements increase labor productivity, which is the output of goods and services per person-hour worked. In Parland’s industries, labor productivity is significantly higher than it is in Vergia’s industries. Clearly, therefore, Parland’s industries must, on the whole, be further advanced technologically than Vergia’s are.

The argument is most vulnerable to which of the following criticisms?

(Because of copyrights, the complete official question is not copied here. You can access the question here: GMAT Club)

Difficulty: Low

Accuracy: 88%

Based on: 5253 sessions

Solution


The Story

In virtually any industry, technological improvements increase labor productivity, which is the output of goods and services per person-hour worked. – Tech improvements → Labor productivity ↑
What is labor productivity? Output per person-hour worked.
What is ‘person-hour’? If 10 people work 40 hours each in a week, that is 400 person-hours.

In this sentence we are provided with a general trend.

In Parland’s industries, labor productivity is significantly higher than it is in Vergia’s industries. – P’s labor productivity >> V’s labor productivity (I’m thinking: the author might link tech improvements with the higher labor productivity)

Clearly, therefore, Parland’s industries must, on the whole, be further advanced technologically than Vergia’s are. – (Yup.) The author concludes that P must be further advanced in tech than V.

Author’s logic:
Tech improvements lead to ↑ labor productivity. In P, labor productivity is higher than in V (basis). Therefore, In P, tech must be better than in V. (main point)

Gap(s) in logic:
Alright, so tech improvements increase labor productivity. But, can’t other things also increase labor productivity? The passage doesn’t claim that tech improvements is the only way to increase labor productivity. So, if a country has higher labor productivity, it could potentially be because of other reasons too. E.g. Better processes or higher operational efficiency.

Question Stem

The argument is most vulnerable to which of the following criticisms?

Prediction:
The argument is confusing a factor that is enough for an outcome to be something that is required for that outcome.

Answer choice analysis


Answer Choice: A

Incorrect

Selected by: 4%

What is the conclusion? The last sentence. That P’s industries must be further advanced technologically that V’s are.
Is this statement a paraphrase of any of the supporting statements? In fact, is the conclusion a paraphrase of anything that’s been mentioned before? No, it isn’t. The conclusion is based on two statements, it isn’t a paraphrase of either.


Answer Choice: B

Incorrect

Selected by: 2%

First, what does the statement mean?
It presents certain information that is inconsistent with certain other evidence.
Information: Evidence in support of a claim
Other evidence: Evidence in support of the same claim
So, what is inconsistent with what? Two pieces of evidence used to support the same claim.

Alright, now let’s move on to figuring out whether this is a flaw in the argument.
Statements 1 and 2 of the passage do provide support for the claim made in statement 3.
However, the two supports are not inconsistent with each other? These two statements are the only supporting pieces of evidence in the passage.


Answer Choice: C

Correct

Selected by: 88%

‘Tech improvements’ is one possible cause for ↑ labor productivity
There could be other possible causes behind ↑ labor productivity.
The argument does not consider other possible causes.

This is exactly the mistake the argument makes.


Answer Choice: D

Incorrect

Selected by: 5%

What does the option mean?
To understand the option better, I’ll use 2 variables:
X: ‘a condition’
Y: ‘something that happened after’
The argument takes X to be the effect of Y
i.e., Y caused X
And, Y happened after X
In other words, what the argument considered as the cause actually happened after the effect.

Now, let’s evaluate.
The argument considers ‘technological advancement’ as the cause for ‘increased labor productivity. However, did technological advancement happen after labor productivity had already increased? There is no such indication in the argument. Timeline, what happened before/ after are not discussed at all.


Answer Choice: E

Incorrect

Selected by: 2%

‘Presuppose’: to suppose beforehand
‘Presupposes the truth of the conclusion’: To believe the conclusion to be true even before it is established

‘Distinction’: a difference of contrast between similar things

Does the argument presuppose the truth of the conclusion before it is established? The argument does not, in any part, believe the conclusion to be true before it is made in the end.

The argument is one-directional. No form of ‘presupposition’ going on in the argument.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

Anish Passi

GMAT Coach

With over a decade of GMAT training experience, top 1 percentile scores on the CAT and GMAT, and a passion for teaching, I’d like to believe I am quite qualified to be a GMAT coach. GMAT is learnable, and I help students master the GMAT through a process-oriented approach based on logic and common sense. I offer private tutoring and live-online classroom courses. My sessions are often sprinkled with real-world examples, references to movies, and jokes that only I find funny. You’ve been warned 🙂

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