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The role of factor substitution in the theory of economic growth and income distribution: Two examples

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  • Turnovsky, Stephen J.

Abstract

While much empirical evidence suggests that the Cobb-Douglas production function may be a reasonable benchmark for aggregate analysis, we argue that the practice, particularly prevalent in contemporary growth theory, of adopting the Cobb-Douglas technology, may lead to misleading implications. Using two examples, we show that key implications of the models are highly sensitive to small deviations of the elasticity of substitution from unity. The first employs the standard neoclassical model and emphasizes the sensitivity of the speed of convergence to small changes in the elasticity of substitution. This in turn has profound consequences for wealth and income distribution. The second deals with foreign aid and highlights how the relative merits of "tied" versus "untied" aid are also very sensitive to the elasticity of substitution.

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  • Turnovsky, Stephen J., 2008. "The role of factor substitution in the theory of economic growth and income distribution: Two examples," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 604-629, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:30:y:2008:i:2:p:604-629
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert S. Chirinko, 2008. "ó: The Long And Short Of It," CESifo Working Paper Series 2234, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Carter, Patrick & Postel-Vinay, Fabien & Temple, Jonathan, 2015. "Dynamic aid allocation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 291-304.
    3. Litina, Anastasia & Palivos, Theodore, 2010. "The Behavior Of The Saving Rate In The Neoclassical Optimal Growth Model," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(04), pages 482-500, September.
    4. Chirinko, Robert S., 2008. "[sigma]: The long and short of it," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 671-686, June.
    5. Gómez Manuel A., 2010. "Endogenous Growth, Habit Formation and Convergence Speed," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-32, January.
    6. Mallick, Debdulal, 2010. "Capital-labor substitution and balanced growth," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1131-1142, December.
    7. Cui, Xiaoyong & Gong, Liutang, 2008. "Foreign aid, domestic capital accumulation, and foreign borrowing," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1269-1284, September.

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