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Accounting for productivity: Is it OK to assume that the world is Cobb-Douglas?

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  • Aiyar, Shekhar
  • Dalgaard, Carl-Johan

Abstract

The development accounting literature almost always assumes a Cobb-Douglas (CD) production function. However, if in reality the elasticity of substitution between capital and labor deviates substantially from 1, the assumption is invalid, potentially casting doubt on the commonly held view that factors of production are relatively unimportant in accounting for differences in labor productivity. We use international data on relative factor shares and capital-output ratios to formulate a number of tests for the validity of the CD assumption. We find that the CD specification performs reasonably well for the purposes of cross-country productivity accounting.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 290-303

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:31:y:2009:i:2:p:290-303

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622617

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Keywords: Development accounting Aggregate production function Elasticity of substitution Total factor productivity;

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References

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  2. Diamond, Peter & McFadden, Daniel & Rodriguez, Miguel, 1978. "Measurement of the Elasticity of Factor Substitution and Bias of Technical Change," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters, in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 2, chapter 5 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
  3. Lutz Hendricks, 2002. "How Important Is Human Capital for Development? Evidence from Immigrant Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 198-219, March.
  4. Ben S. Bernanke & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bern01-1, octubre-d.
  5. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard, 2004. "Total Factor Productivity Revisited: A Dual Approach to Development Accounting," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-07, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  6. Galor, Oded, 1996. "Convergence? Inferences from Theoretical Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 1350, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. John Duffy & Chris Papageorgiou & Fidel Perez-Sebastian, 2004. "Capital-Skill Complementarity? Evidence from a Panel of Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 327-344, February.
  8. Diego Restuccia, 2002. "Barriers to Capital Accumulation and Aggregate Total Factor Productivity," Working Papers diegor-02-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  9. Charles I. Jones & Dean Scrimgeour, 2008. "A New Proof of Uzawa's Steady-State Growth Theorem," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 180-182, February.
  10. Duffy, John & Papageorgiou, Chris, 2000. " A Cross-Country Empirical Investigation of the Aggregate Production Function Specification," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 87-120, March.
  11. Douglas Gollin, 2001. "Getting Income Shares Right," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-11, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  12. J. D. Pitchpord, 1960. "GROWTH and THE ELASTICITY OF FACTOR SUBSTITUTION-super-1," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 36(76), pages 491-504, December.
  13. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Martin Kaae Jensen, 2007. "Life Cycle Savings, Bequest, and the Diminishing Impact of Scale on Growth," Discussion Papers 07-17, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. T.V.S.Ramamohan Rao, 2011. "Contemporary Relevance and Ongoing Controversies Related to the CES Production Function," Journal of Quantitative Economics, The Indian Econometric Society, vol. 9(2), pages 36-57, July.
  2. Alberto BUCCI & Chiara DEL BO, 2009. "On the interaction between public investment and private capital in economic growth," Departmental Working Papers 2009-44, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  3. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Jensen, Martin Kaae, 2009. "Life-cycle savings, bequest, and a diminishing impact of scale on growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1639-1647, September.
  4. Shekhar Aiyar & Romain A Duval & Damien Puy & Yiqun Wu & Longmei Zhang, 2013. "Growth Slowdowns and the Middle-Income Trap," IMF Working Papers 13/71, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Temple, Jonathan, 2012. "The calibration of CES production functions," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 294-303.
  6. Axel Dreher & Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Friedrich Schneider, 2007. "The Devil is in the Shadow – Do Institutions Affect Income and Productivity or only Official Income and Official Productivity?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2150, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Małgorzata Gawrycka & Aneta Sobiechowska-Ziegert & Anna Szymczak, 2012. "The Impact of Technological and Structural Changes in the National Economy on the Labour-Capital Relations," Contemporary Economics, University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, vol. 6(1), March.
  8. Alberto Bucci & Chiara Del Bo, 2012. "On the interaction between public and private capital in economic growth," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 106(2), pages 133-152, June.

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