Why do Aggregate Production Functions Work? Fisher's simulations, Shaikh's identity and some new results
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.
Volume (Year): 15 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/CIRA20|
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.tandfonline.com/pricing/journal/CIRA20|
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.:
- Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1970. "Capacity, Overtime, and Empirical Production Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(2), pages 23-27, May.
- 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 343-61, July-Aug..
- Tor Jakob Klette & Zvi Griliches, 1992. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators When Output Prices Are Unobserved and Engogenous," NBER Working Papers 4026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Tor Jakob Klette & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "The Inconsistency of Common Scales Estimators when Output Prices are Unobserved and Endogenous," Discussion Papers 127, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
- Klette, T.J., 1992. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators when Output Prices are unobserved and Endogenous," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1586, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- 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.
- 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.
- Simon, Herbert A, 1979. " On Parsimonious Explanations of Production Relations," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 81(4), pages 459-74.
- 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 249-83, April.
- Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1996. "Returns to scale in U.S. production: estimates and implications," International Finance Discussion Papers 546, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- David Aschauer, 1988.
"Is public expenditure productive?,"
88-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- 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 923-39, October.
- Otto, Glenn & Voss, Graham, 1996. "Public Capital and Private Production in Australia," MPRA Paper 52110, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Charles R. Nelson & Heejoon Kang, 1983.
"Pitfalls in the use of Time as an Explanatory Variable in Regression,"
NBER Technical Working Papers
0030, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- 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.
- Basu, S. & Fernald, J.G., 1993. "Are Apparent Productive Spillovers a Figment of Specification Error," Papers 93-22, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
- Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1994. "Are apparent productive spillovers a figment of specification error?," International Finance Discussion Papers 463, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1995. "Are Apparent Productive Spillovers a Figment of Specification Error?," NBER Working Papers 5073, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- 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 115-20, February.
- Fisher, Franklin M, 1969. "The Existence of Aggregate Production Functions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(4), pages 553-77, October.
- Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995.
"Production Functions: The Search for Identification,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1719, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Z, Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1997. "Production Functions : The Search for Identification," Working Papers 97-30, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
- Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995. "Production Functions: The Search for Identification," NBER Working Papers 5067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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 305-25, November.
- 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.
- Steven N. Durlauf & Peter C.B. Phillips, 1986.
"Trends Versus Random Walks in Time Series Analysis,"
Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers
788, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Durlauf, Steven N & Phillips, Peter C B, 1988. "Trends versus Random Walks in Time Series Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1333-54, November.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Otto, Glenn & Voss, Graham M, 1994. "Public Capital and Private Sector Productivity," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 70(209), pages 121-32, June.
- 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.
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: (Michael McNulty)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.