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The Tyranny of the Identity: Growth Accounting Revisited

It has been argued in the literature that growth accounting may be undertaken by directly differentiating the national income and product accounts identity where total income equals labour's total compensation and total profits. This paper shows that this is simply an exercise in the manipulation of an accounting identity without necessarily having any theoretical foundation. Simulations show that the estimates of total factor productivity growth resulting from growth accounting performed with aggregate monetary data are not equivalent to the true rate of technological progress implied by the micro-data. This suggests that results from the orthodox growth accounting approach may be very misleading.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Review of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 20 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 283-299

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Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:20:y:2006:i:3:p:283-299
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  1. 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.
  2. Chang-Tai Hsieh, 2002. "What Explains the Industrial Revolution in East Asia? Evidence From the Factor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 502-526, June.
  3. Robert J. Barro, 1998. "Notes on Growth Accounting," NBER Working Papers 6654, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Fisher, Franklin M & Solow, Robert M & Kearl, James M, 1977. "Aggregate Production Functions: Some CES Experiments," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 305-20, June.
  6. J. S. L. McCombie, 1998. "'Are There Laws of Production': an assessment of the early criticisms of the," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 141-173.
  7. Charles R. Hulten, 2000. "Total Factor Productivity: A Short Biography," NBER Working Papers 7471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. J. S. L. McCombie, 2001. "What Does the Aggregate Production Function Show? Further Thoughts on Solow's "Second Thoughts on Growth Theory"," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 23(4), pages 589-615, July.
  9. 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.
  10. Simon, Herbert A, 1979. " On Parsimonious Explanations of Production Relations," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 81(4), pages 459-74.
  11. Edward C. Prescott, 1997. "Needed: a theory of total factor productivity," Staff Report 242, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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