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Rejecting capital-skill complementarity at all costs

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  • Frondel, Manuel
  • Schmidt, Christoph M.

Abstract

Any serious empirical study of factor substitutability has to allow the data to display complementarity as well as substitutability. The standard approach reflecting this idea is a translog specification – this is also the approach used by numerous studies analyzing the relative capital-skill complementarity hypothesis formulated by GRILICHES (1969). According to this hypothesis, the degree of substitutability between skilled labor and capital is lower than that for unskilled labor and capital. Yet, the results of empirical studies investigating this hypothesis are controversial. This paper offers a straightforward explanation: Using a translog approach reduces the issue of factor substitutability or complementarity to a question of cost shares. Our review of translog studies mentioned in HAMERMESH?s (1993) summary on the demand for heterogeneous labor demonstrates that this argument is empirically relevant – all these studies can be reconciled with each other on the basis of the cost-share argument. --

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics Letters.

Volume (Year): 80 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 15-21

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:80:y:2003:i:1:p:15-21

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  1. Manuel Frondel & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2002. "The Capital-Energy Controversy: An Artifact of Cost Shares?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 53-79.
  2. Denny, Michael & Fuss, Melvyn A, 1977. "The Use of Approximation Analysis to Test for Separability and the Existence of Consistent Aggregates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 404-18, June.
  3. Bergstrom, Villy & Panas, Epaminondas E, 1992. "How Robust Is the Capital-Skill Complementarity Hypothesis?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 540-46, August.
  4. Kumbhakar, Subal C., 1997. "Modeling allocative inefficiency in a translog cost function and cost share equations: An exact relationship," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1-2), pages 351-356.
  5. Ryan, David L. & Wales, Terence J., 2000. "Imposing local concavity in the translog and generalized Leontief cost functions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 253-260, June.
  6. Freeman, Richard B & Medoff, James L, 1982. "Substitution between Production Labor and Other Inputs in Unionized and Nonunionized Manufacturing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(2), pages 220-33, May.
  7. Berger, Mark C., 1984. "Increases in energy prices, costs of production, and plant size," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 345-357, August.
  8. Turnovsky, Michelle H L & Donnelly, William A, 1984. "Energy Substitution, Separability, and Technical Progress in the Australian Iron and Steel Industry," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 2(1), pages 54-63, January.
  9. Berndt, Ernst R. & Morrisson, Catherine J., 1979. "Income redistribution and employment effects of rising energy prices," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 2(2-3), pages 131-150.
  10. Lutz Bellmann & Stefan Bender & Thorsten Schank, 1999. "Flexibility of Firms' Labor Demand: Substitutability or Complementarity," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 219(1+2), pages 109-126, July.
  11. Michael Funke & Felix FitzRoy, 1995. "Skills, Wages, and Employment in East and West Germany," IMF Working Papers 95/4, International Monetary Fund.
  12. Berndt, Ernst R & Christensen, Laurits R, 1974. "Testing for the Existence of a Consistent Aggregate Index of Labor Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 391-404, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Eva, MORENO GALBIS, 2002. "Changes in the skill structure of the labour force. An empirical application to the Spanish case," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2002035, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  2. Frondel, Manuel, 2011. "Modelling energy and non-energy substitution: A brief survey of elasticities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 4601-4604, August.
  3. Behl, Peter & Dette, Holger & Frondel, Manuel & Tauchmann, Harald, 2012. "Choice is suffering: A Focused Information Criterion for model selection," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 817-822.
  4. Manuel Frondel & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2006. "On the Restrictiveness of Separability: The Significance of Energy in German Manufacturing," RWI Discussion Papers 0038, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung.
  5. Manuel Frondel & Peter Behl & Holger Dette & Harald Tauchmann, 2011. "Choice is Suffering: A Focused Information Criterion for Model Selection Activation Program for Disadvantaged Youths," Ruhr Economic Papers 0250, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  6. Peter Behl & Holger Dette & Manuel Frondel & Harald Tauchmann, 2011. "Being Focused: When the Purpose of Inference Matters for Model Selection," Ruhr Economic Papers 0264, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  7. Behl, Peter & Dette, Holger & Frondel, Manuel & Tauchmann, Harald, 2013. "Energy substitution: When model selection depends on the focus," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 233-238.
  8. Ljubica Nedelkoska & Simon Wiederhold, 2010. "Technology, outsourcing, and the demand for heterogeneous labor: Exploring the industry dimension," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-052, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  9. Michel Dumont, 2006. "Foreign outsourcing, labour demand and the choice of functional form," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 255-273, November.

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