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Needed: a theory of total factor productivity

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  • Edward C. Prescott

Abstract

This paper evaluates the argument that differences in physical and intangible capital can account for the large international income differences that characterize the world economy today. The finding is that they cannot. Savings rate differences are of minor importance. What is all-important is total factor productivity. In addition, the paper presents industry evidence that total factor productivities differ across countries and time for reasons other than differences in the publicly available stock of technical knowledge. These findings lead me to conclude a theory of TFP is needed. This theory must account for differences in TFP that arise for reasons other than growth in the stock of technical knowledge.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 242.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:242

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Keywords: Income distribution ; Productivity;

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  1. Jeremy Greenwood & Zvi Hercowitz & Per Krusell, 1992. "Macroeconomic implications of investment-specific technological change," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 76, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 1996. "The Poverty of Nations: A Quantitative Exploration," NBER Working Papers 5414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Hartwell, Robert, 1966. "Markets, Technology, and the Structure of Enterprise in the Development of the Eleventh-Century Chinese Iron and Steel Industry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(01), pages 29-58, March.
  5. Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1994. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 617-52, August.
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  12. Summers, Robert, 1973. "International Price Comparisons Based Upon Incomplete Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 19(1), pages 1-16, March.
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  14. Thomas J. Holmes & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 1994. "Resistance to technology and trade between areas," Staff Report 184, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  17. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  18. Thomas J. Holmes & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 1995. "Resistance to new technology and trade between areas," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-17.
  19. Jones, Charles I., 1994. "Economic growth and the relative price of capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 359-382, December.
  20. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Heston, Alan & Summers, Robert, 1996. "International Price and Quantity Comparisons: Potentials and Pitfalls," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 20-24, May.
  22. Easterly, William & DEC, 1993. "How much do distortions affect growth?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1215, The World Bank.
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  24. Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1984. "Applied General-Equilibrium Models of Taxation and International Trade: An Introduction and Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 1007-51, September.
  25. Alwyn Young, 1991. "Learning by Doing and the Dynamic Effects of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 3577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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