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Technological Change and the Roaring Twenties: A Neoclassical Perspective

  • Sharon Harrison

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Barnard College, Columbia University)

  • Mark Weder

    ()

    (School of Economics, University of Adelaide)

In this paper, we address the causes of the Roaring Twenties in the United States. In particular, we use a version of the real business cycle model to test the hypothesis that an extraordinary pace of productivity growth was the driving factor. Our motivation comes from the abundance of evidence of significant technological progress during this period, fed by innovations in manufacturing and the widespread introduction of electricity. Our estimated total factor productivity series generate artificial model output that shows high conformity with the data: the model economy successfully replicates the boom years from 1922-1929.

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File URL: http://www.economics.adelaide.edu.au/research/papers/doc/wp2009-29.pdf
File Function: 2009
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Paper provided by University of Adelaide, School of Economics in its series School of Economics Working Papers with number 2009-29.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:adl:wpaper:2009-29
Contact details of provider: Postal: Adelaide SA 5005
Phone: (618) 8303 5540
Web page: http://www.economics.adelaide.edu.au/

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  1. Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "Why Did Productivity Fall So Much during the Great Depression?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 34-38, May.
  2. Alexander J. Field, 2003. "The Most Technologically Progressive Decade of the Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1399-1413, September.
  3. Ellen R. McGrattan & Lee E. Ohanian, 2008. "Does neoclassical theory account for the effects of big fiscal shocks? Evidence from World War II," Staff Report 315, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Some skeptical observations on real business cycle theory," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 23-27.
  5. Burnside, C & Eichenbaum, M & Rebelo, S, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," RCER Working Papers 402, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  6. Christopher J. Erceg & Michael D. Bordo & Charles L. Evans, 2000. "Money, Sticky Wages, and the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1447-1463, December.
  7. Evans, Charles L., 1992. "Productivity shocks and real business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 191-208, April.
  8. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "New Deal policies and the persistence of the Great Depression: a general equilibrium analysis," Working Papers 597, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Peter Temin, 2008. "Real Business Cycle Views of the Great Depression and Recent Events: A Review of Timothy J. Kehoe and Edward C. Prescott's Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 669-84, September.
  10. Cooley, Thomas F, 1997. "Calibrated Models," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 55-69, Autumn.
  11. 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.
  12. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  13. Field, Alexander J., 2006. "Technological Change and U.S. Productivity Growth in the Interwar Years," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(01), pages 203-236, March.
  14. Field, Alexander J., 2009. "US economic growth in the gilded age," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 173-190, March.
  15. Devine, Warren D., 1983. "From Shafts to Wires: Historical Perspective on Electrification," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(02), pages 347-372, June.
  16. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, October.
  17. Mark Weder, 2004. "The Role of Preference Shocks and Capital Utilization in the Great Depression," CDMA Working Paper Series 200405, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
  18. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Raff, Daniel M. G., 1991. "Intra-Industry Heterogeneity and the Great Depression: The American Motor Vehicles Industry, 1929–1935," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(02), pages 317-331, June.
  19. Weir, David R., 1986. "The Reliability of Historical Macroeconomic Data for Comparing Cyclical Stability," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 353-365, June.
  20. Harrison, Sharon G. & Weder, Mark, 2006. "Did sunspot forces cause the Great Depression?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1327-1339, October.
  21. Oshima, Harry T., 1984. "The Growth of U.S. Factor Productivity: The Significance of New Technologies in the Early Decades of the Twentieth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(01), pages 161-170, March.
  22. John W. Kendrick, 1973. "Postwar Productivity Trends in the United States, 1948-1969," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend73-1, October.
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