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An Assessment of CES and Cobb-Douglas Production Functions: Working Paper 2008-05

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  • Eric Miller

Abstract

This paper surveys the empirical and theoretical literature on macroeconomic production functions and assesses whether the constant elasticity of substitution (CES) or the Cobb-Douglas specification is more appropriate for use in the CBO’s macroeconomic forecasts. The Cobb-Douglas’s major strengths are its ease of use and its seemingly good empirical fit across many data sets. Unfortunately, the Cobb-Douglas still fits the data well in cases where some of its fundamental assumptions are violated. This suggests that many empirical tests of the Cobb-Douglas are picking up a statistical artifact rather than an underlying production function. The CES has less restrictive assumptions about the interaction of capital and labor in production. However, econometric estimates of its elasticity parameter have produced inconsistent results. For the purpose of forecasting under current policies, there may not be a strong reason to prefer one form over the other; but for analysis of policies affecting factor returns, such as taxes on capital and labor income, the Cobb-Douglas specification may be too restrictive.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Congressional Budget Office in its series Working Papers with number 19992.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cbo:wpaper:19992

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  1. Shaikh, Anwar, 1974. "Laws of Production and Laws of Algebra: The Humbug Production Function," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 115-20, February.
  2. Charles I. Jones, 2003. "Growth, capital shares, and a new perspective on production functions," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  3. Fisher, Franklin M, 1971. "Aggregate Production Functions and the Explanation of Wages: A Simulation Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 53(4), pages 305-25, November.
  4. Kumar, T Krishna & Gapinski, James H, 1974. "Nonlinear Estimation of the CES Production Parameters: A Monte Carlo Study," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(4), pages 563-67, November.
  5. Olivier de La Grandville & Rainer Klump, 2000. "Economic Growth and the Elasticity of Substitution: Two Theorems and Some Suggestions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 282-291, March.
  6. Klump, Rainer & McAdam, Peter & Willman, Alpo, 2008. "Unwrapping some euro area growth puzzles: Factor substitution, productivity and unemployment," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 645-666, June.
  7. Kevin J. Stiroh, 1998. "Long-Run Growth Projections And The Aggregate Production Function: A Survey Of Models Used By The U.S. Government," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(4), pages 467-479, October.
  8. Fisher, Franklin M & Solow, Robert M & Kearl, James M, 1977. "Aggregate Production Functions: Some CES Experiments," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 305-20, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Pisey Khin & Ryuta Ray Kato, 2010. "The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis on Cambodia," Working Papers EMS_2010_10, Research Institute, International University of Japan.
  2. Matei, Ani & Matei, Lucica, 2010. "Reducing the administrative expenditures as source for increasing the efficiency of local governance under conditions of the financial crisis," MPRA Paper 23085, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 05 May 2010.
  3. Matei, Ani & Matei, Lucica, 2011. "Knowledge marketing and development in the new knowledge-based economy," MPRA Paper 31474, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Jun 2011.
  4. 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.
  5. Razzak Weshah A. & Bentour El M., 2013. "Do Developing Countries Benefit from Foreign Direct Investments? An Analysis of Some Arab and Asian Countries," Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, De Gruyter, vol. 9(3), pages 357-388, December.

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