IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Is the U.S. Aggregate Production Function Cobb-Douglas? New Estimates of the Elasticity of Substitution

Listed author(s):
  • Antràs Pol

    ()

    (Harvard University)

I present new estimates of the elasticity of substitution between capital and labor using data from the private sector of the U.S. economy for the period 1948-1998. I first adopt Berndt's (1976) specification, which assumes that technological change is Hicks neutral. Consistently with his results, I estimate elasticities of substitution that are not significantly different from one. I next show, however, that restricting the analysis to Hicks-neutral technological change necessarily biases the estimates of the elasticity towards one. When I modify the econometric specification to allow for biased technical change, I obtain significantly lower estimates of the elasticity of substitution. I conclude that the U.S. economy is not well described by a Cobb-Douglas aggregate production function. I present estimates based on both classical regression analysis and time series analysis. In the process, I deal with issues related to the nonsphericality of the disturbances, the endogeneity of the regressors, and the nonstationarity of the series involved in the estimation.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bejm.2004.4.1/bejm.2004.4.1.1161/bejm.2004.4.1.1161.xml?format=INT
Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 4 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 1-36

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejmac:v:contributions.4:y:2004:i:1:n:4
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.degruyter.com

Order Information: Web: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bejm

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. Engle, Robert & Granger, Clive, 2015. "Co-integration and error correction: Representation, estimation, and testing," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 39(3), pages 106-135.
  2. Bentolila Samuel & Saint-Paul Gilles, 2003. "Explaining Movements in the Labor Share," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-33, October.
  3. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
  4. Berndt, Ernst R, 1976. "Reconciling Alternative Estimates of the Elasticity of Substitution," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(1), pages 59-68, February.
  5. Charles I. Jones, 2003. "Growth, capital shares, and a new perspective on production functions," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  6. Susanto Basu, 1996. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 719-751.
  7. Robert S. Chirinko, 2002. "Corporate Taxation, Capital Formation, and the Substitution Elasticity between Labor and Capital," CESifo Working Paper Series 707, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
  9. Judd, Kenneth L, 1987. "The Welfare Cost of Factor Taxation in a Perfect-Foresight Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 675-709, August.
  10. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Labor- And Capital-Augmenting Technical Change," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 1-37, 03.
  11. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1995, Volume 10, pages 67-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
  13. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  14. Xavier Sala-I-Martin, 1997. "Transfers, Social Safety Nets, and Economic Growth," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(1), pages 81-102, March.
  15. Fair, Ray C, 1970. "The Estimation of Simultaneous Equation Models with Lagged Endogenous Variables and First Order Serially Correlated Errors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(3), pages 507-516, May.
  16. Diewert, W E, 1971. "An Application of the Shephard Duality Theorem: A Generalized Leontief Production Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(3), pages 481-507, May-June.
  17. Chirinko, Robert S., 2002. "Corporate Taxation, Capital Formation,and the Substitution Elasticity Between Labor and Capital," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(2), pages 339-355, June.
  18. Phillips, P.C.B., 1986. "Understanding spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 311-340, December.
  19. Granger, C. W. J. & Newbold, P., 1974. "Spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 111-120, July.
  20. Kalt, Joseph P, 1978. "Technological Change and Factor Substitution in the United States: 1929-1967," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 19(3), pages 761-775, October.
  21. Coen, Robert M, 1969. "Tax Policy and Investment Behavior: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(3), pages 370-379, June.
  22. Stock, James H, 1987. "Asymptotic Properties of Least Squares Estimators of Cointegrating Vectors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1035-1056, September.
  23. Dhrymes, Phoebus J & Zarembka, Paul, 1970. "Elasticities of Substitution for Two-Digit Manufacturing Industries: A Correction," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 52(1), pages 115-117, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:bejmac:v:contributions.4:y:2004:i:1:n:4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.