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Quantifying embodied technological change

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  • Plutarchos Sakellaris
  • Daniel J. Wilson

Abstract

We estimate the rate of embodied technological change directly from plant-level manufacturing data on current output and input choices along with histories on their vintages of equipment investment. Our estimates range between 8 and 17 percent for the typical U.S. manufacturing plant during the years 1972-1996. Any number in this range is substantially larger than is conventionally accepted with some important implications. First, the role of investment-specific technological change as an engine of growth is even larger than previously estimated. Second, existing producer durable price indices do not adequately account for quality change. As a result, measured capital stock growth is biased. Third, if accurate, the Hulten and Wykoff (1981) economic depreciation rates may primarily reflect obsolescence.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2001-16.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Publication status: Published in Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 7, no. 1 , January 2004, Pages 1-26
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2001-16

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Keywords: Technology ; Productivity;

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  5. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z. & Krusell, P., 1995. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9510, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
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  13. Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1, May.
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  15. Boyan Jovanovic & Rafael Rob, 1997. "Solow vs. Solow: Machine Prices and Development," NBER Working Papers 5871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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