IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/taf/irapec/v15y2001i3p261-285.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Why do Aggregate Production Functions Work? Fisher's simulations, Shaikh's identity and some new results

Author

Listed:
  • Jesus Felipe
  • Carsten Holz

Abstract

The literature on aggregation has shown that the conditions for successful aggregation of micro production functions into an aggregate production function are far too stringent to be believable (Fisher 1969, 1971). Despite this, aggregate production functions continue being used. The reason is that they seem to 'work'. This happens, however, because underlying every aggregate production function is the income accounting identity that links input and output, i.e. output equals wages plus profits. A simple algebraic transformation of this identity yields a form that resembles a production function (Shaikh, 1974, 1980). This paper uses Monte Carlo simulations to study two questions. First, how much spuriousness can help explain the relatively good fits of the Cobb-Douglas production function? The simulations show that the contribution of spuriousness to a high R 2 is minor once we properly account for the fact that input and output data used in production function estimations are linked through the income accounting identity. It is mostly the link through this identity that explains the results. Secondly, we study how much factor shares have to vary in an economy so as to render the Cobb-Douglas production function with a time trend a bad choice for modelling and estimation purposes. We conclude that the Cobb-Douglas form is robust to relatively large variations in the factor shares. What makes this form often fail are the variations in the growth rates of the wage and profit rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Jesus Felipe & Carsten Holz, 2001. "Why do Aggregate Production Functions Work? Fisher's simulations, Shaikh's identity and some new results," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(3), pages 261-285.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:15:y:2001:i:3:p:261-285
    DOI: 10.1080/02692170110052338
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02692170110052338
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1970. "Capacity, Overtime, and Empirical Production Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(2), pages 23-27, May.
    2. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G., 1995. "Are apparent productive spillovers a figment of specification error?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 165-188, August.
    3. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995. "Production Functions: The Search for Identification," NBER Working Papers 5067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jesus Felipe & J. S. L. McCombie, 2001. "The CES Production Function, the accounting identity, and Occam's razor," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(10), pages 1221-1232.
    5. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Lyons, Richard K., 1992. "External effects in U.S. procyclical productivity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 209-225, April.
    6. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
    7. Klette, Tor Jakob & Griliches, Zvi, 1996. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators When Output Prices Are Unobserved and Endogenous," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 343-361, July-Aug..
    8. Otto, Glenn & Voss, Graham M, 1994. "Public Capital and Private Sector Productivity," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 70(209), pages 121-132, June.
    9. 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.
    10. Simon, Herbert A, 1979. " On Parsimonious Explanations of Production Relations," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 81(4), pages 459-474.
    11. Fisher, Franklin M, 1971. "Aggregate Production Functions and the Explanation of Wages: A Simulation Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 53(4), pages 305-325, November.
    12. Paul M. Romer, 1987. "Crazy Explanations for the Productivity Slowdown," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 163-210 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Jesus Felipe & F. Gerard Adams, 2005. ""A Theory of Production" The Estimation of the Cobb-Douglas Function: A Retrospective View," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 427-445, Summer.
    14. Shaikh, Anwar, 1974. "Laws of Production and Laws of Algebra: The Humbug Production Function," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 115-120, February.
    15. Nelson, Charles R & Kang, Heejoon, 1984. "Pitfalls in the Use of Time as an Explanatory Variable in Regression," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 2(1), pages 73-82, January.
    16. Fisher, Franklin M, 1969. "The Existence of Aggregate Production Functions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(4), pages 553-577, October.
    17. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G, 1997. "Returns to Scale in U.S. Production: Estimates and Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 249-283, April.
    18. Alicia H. Munnell, 1992. "Policy Watch: Infrastructure Investment and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 189-198, Fall.
    19. Durlauf, Steven N & Phillips, Peter C B, 1988. "Trends versus Random Walks in Time Series Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1333-1354, November.
    20. Samuelson, Paul A, 1979. "Paul Douglas's Measurement of Production Functions and Marginal Productivities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 923-939, October.
    21. Otto, Glenn & Voss, Graham, 1996. "Public Capital and Private Production in Australia," MPRA Paper 52110, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Jesus Felipe & J. S. L. McCombie, 2003. "Some methodological problems with the neoclassical analysis of the East Asian miracle," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(5), pages 695-721, September.
    23. Labini, Paolo Sylos, 1995. "Why the interpretation of the Cobb-Douglas production function must be radically changed," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 485-504, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Jesus Felipe & J. S. L. Mccombie, 2007. "On the Rental Price of Capital and the Profit Rate: The Perils and Pitfalls of Total Factor Productivity Growth," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 317-345.
    2. Chirinko, Robert S., 2008. "[sigma]: The long and short of it," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 671-686, June.
    3. repec:zbw:caprev:157914 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Fleisher, Belton & Li, Haizheng & Zhao, Min Qiang, 2010. "Human capital, economic growth, and regional inequality in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 215-231, July.
    5. Paul E. Brockway & Matthew K. Heun & João Santos & John R. Barrett, 2017. "Energy-Extended CES Aggregate Production: Current Aspects of Their Specification and Econometric Estimation," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(2), pages 1-23, February.
    6. Jesus Felipe & J. S. L. McCombie, 2002. "A Problem with Some Estimations and Interpretations of the Mark-up in Manufacturing Industry," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 187-215.
    7. Thomas Fredholm & Stefano Zambelli, 2013. "Production Functions Behaving Badly - Reconsidering Fisher and Shaikh," ASSRU Discussion Papers 1305, ASSRU - Algorithmic Social Science Research Unit.
    8. Robert S. Chirinko & Debdulal Mallick, 2007. "The Fisher/Cobb-Douglas Paradox, Factor Shares, and Cointegration," CESifo Working Paper Series 1998, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Jonathan Temple, 2006. "Aggregate Production Functions and Growth Economics," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 301-317.
    10. Jesus Felipe, 2005. "Aggregate Investment In The People'S Republic Of China: A Comment," CAMA Working Papers 2005-17, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    11. Robert S. Chirinko, 2008. "ó: The Long And Short Of It," CESifo Working Paper Series 2234, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. Jesus Felipe & John McCombie, 2006. "The Tyranny of the Identity: Growth Accounting Revisited," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 283-299.
    13. Jonathan Temple, 2010. "Aggregate production functions, growth economics, and the part-time tyranny of the identity: a reply to Felipe and McCombie," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(6), pages 685-692.
    14. Acharya, Sanjaya, 2010. "Potential impacts of the devaluation of Nepalese currency: A general equilibrium approach," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 413-436, December.
    15. Fix, Blair, 2014. "Putting Power Back Into Growth Theory," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2014/05, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    16. Jesus Felipe & J. S. L. McCombie, 2005. "How Sound are the Foundations of the Aggregate Production Function?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 467-488, Summer.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:15:y:2001:i:3:p:261-285. 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: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: http://www.tandfonline.com/CIRA20 .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.