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Productivity growth in the 1990s: technology, utilization, or adjustment?

  • Basu, Susanto
  • Fernald, John G.
  • Shapiro, Matthew D.

Measured productivity growth increased substantially during the second half of the 1990s. This paper examines whether this increase owes to an increase in the rate of technological change or whether it can be explained by non-technological factors relating to factor utilization, factor accumulation, or returns to scale. It finds that the recent increase in productivity growth does appear to arise from an increase in technological change. Cyclical utilization raised measured productivity growth relative to technology growth in the first part of the expansion, but lowered it subsequently. Factor adjustment leads to a steady-state understatement of technology growth by measured productivity growth. The understatement was greater in the second half of the expansion than the first. Changes in the distribution of inputs across industries with different returns to scale lead to a modest understatement in the growth in technology. Although the increase technological change is most pronounced in durable manufacturing, technological change also increased outside of manufacturing.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 55 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (December)
Pages: 117-165

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Handle: RePEc:eee:crcspp:v:55:y:2001:i:1:p:117-165
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  1. Susanto Basu & Miles S. Kimball, 1997. "Cyclical Productivity with Unobserved Input Variation," NBER Working Papers 5915, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1997. "Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology," International Finance Discussion Papers 593, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Michael T. Kiley, 1999. "Computers and growth with costs of adjustment: will the future look like the past?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 1994. "The effects of monetary policy shocks: evidence from the Flow of Funds," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Robert E. Hall, 2001. "The Stock Market and Capital Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1185-1202, December.
  6. Susanto Basu & John Fernald & Miles Kimball, 2004. "Are technology improvements contractionary?," Working Paper Series WP-04-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. Susanto Basu & John Fernald, 2001. "Why Is Productivity Procyclical? Why Do We Care?," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Analysis, pages 225-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Andrew B. Abel, 2003. "The Effects of a Baby Boom on Stock Prices and Capital Accumulation in the Presence of Social Security," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(2), pages 551-578, March.
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  10. Shapiro, Matthew D, 1993. "Cyclical Productivity and the Workweek of Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 229-33, May.
  11. Valerie A. Ramey & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1999. "Costly Capital Reallocation and the Effects of Government Spending," NBER Working Papers 6283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Christopher A. Sims, 1974. "Output and Labor Input in Manufacturing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 5(3), pages 695-736.
  13. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2001. "Information technology and the U.S. productivity revival: what do the industry data say?," Staff Reports 115, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  14. Robert E. Hall, 2001. "Struggling to Understand the Stock Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 1-11, May.
  15. William D. Nordhaus, 2001. "Productivity Growth and the New Economy," NBER Working Papers 8096, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-17, June.
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  19. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles L., 1999. "Monetary policy shocks: What have we learned and to what end?," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 65-148 Elsevier.
  20. Martin N. Baily & Robert Lawrence, 2001. "Do We Have A New E-Conomy?," NBER Working Papers 8243, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Karl Whelan, 2000. "A guide to the use of chain aggregated NIPA data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  22. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: U.S. Economic Growth in the Information Age," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 125-236.
  23. Gordon, Robert J, 2000. "Does the 'New Economy' Measure up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2607, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  25. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1985. "Capital Utilization and Capital Accumulation: Theory and Evidence," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 736, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  26. Robert E. Hall, 1980. "Employment Fluctuations and Wage Rigidity," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(1, Tenth ), pages 91-142.
  27. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1993. "Dynamic General Equilibrium Models with Imperfectly Competitive Product Markets," NBER Working Papers 4502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Karl Whelan, 2002. "Computers, Obsolescence, And Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 445-461, August.
  29. Basu, Susanto, 1996. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 719-51, August.
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