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The Marginal Product of Capital: A Persistent International Puzzle

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  • Robert S. Chirinko
  • Debdulal Mallick

Abstract

Large and sustained differences in marginal products of capital (MPKs) across countries are sharply at odds with the core implications of the neoclassical framework. Lucas (1990) and many subsequent studies have examined reasons for this MPK differential. In a recent contribution, Caselli and Feyrer (2007) take the ground out from under this debate by reconsidering measurement issues and concluding that the MPK differential vanishes. Despite Caselli and Feyrer’s important advances in measurement, the international MPK puzzle persists. We show that the measurement of MPKs in their framework is substantially affected by adjustment costs in the accumulation of capital. With the proper technology and a plausible parameterization of adjustment costs, the MPK in poor countries is much higher than the MPK in rich countries. Why capital flows do not eliminate the MPK differential remains a persistent international puzzle. We examine the quantitative importance of financial frictions, relative prices, and adjustment costs in accounting for the MPK differential and document that adjustment costs provide the leading explanation.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2008/wp-cesifo-2008-09/cesifo1_wp2399.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2399.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2399

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Keywords: marginal product of capital; adjustment costs; macroeconomic analysis of economic development; international capital flows;

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References

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  1. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2003. "Relative Prices and Relative Prosperity," NBER Working Papers 9701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Firm-Specific Capital and the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 1(2), September.
  3. Francesco Caselli & James Feyrer, 2006. "The Marginal Product of Capital," CEP Discussion Papers dp0735, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Charlotta Groth, 2008. "Quantifying UK Capital Adjustment Costs," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(298), pages 310-325, 05.
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  7. Andrew B. Abel & Janice B. Eberly, . "The Effects of Irreversibility and Uncertainty on Capital Accumulation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 21-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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  9. Barnett, Steven A. & Sakellaris, Plutarchos, 1998. "Nonlinear response of firm investment to Q:: Testing a model of convex and non-convex adjustment costs1," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 261-288, July.
  10. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Regulation Of Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37, February.
  11. Ricardo J. Caballero, 1997. "Aggregate Investment," NBER Working Papers 6264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Russell W. Cooper & John C. Haltiwanger, 2000. "On the Nature of Capital Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 7925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Gerard A. Pfann, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1264-1292, September.
  14. Robert E. Lucas & Jr., 1967. "Adjustment Costs and the Theory of Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 321.
  15. Andrew B. Abel & Olivier J. Blanchard, 1983. "The Present Value of Profits and Cyclical Movements in Investment," NBER Working Papers 1122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Chirinko, Robert S. & Schaller, Huntley, 2009. "The irreversibility premium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 390-408, April.
  17. Ben S. Bernanke & Refet S. Gurkaynak, 2001. "Is Growth Exogenous? Taking Mankiw, Romer and Weil Seriously," NBER Working Papers 8365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Chirinko, Robert S., 1995. "Nonconvexities, labor hoarding, technology shocks, and procyclical productivity a structural econometric analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1-2), pages 61-98.
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Cited by:
  1. Dennis Reinhardt, 2010. "Into the Allocation Puzzle - A Sectoral Analysis," Working Papers 10.02, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  2. Su, Jian & Jefferson, Gary H., 2012. "Differences in returns to FDI between China's coast and interior: One country, two economies?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 259-269.

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