Estimating Capital Efficiency Schedules Within Production Functions
The appropriate method for aggregating capital goods across vintages to produce a single capital stock measure has long been a contentious issue, and the literature covering this topic is quite extensive. This paper presents a methodology that estimates efficiency schedules within a production function, allowing the data to reveal how the efficiency of capital goods evolve as they age. Specifically we insert a parameterized investment stream into the position of a capital variable in a production function, and then estimate the parameters of the production function simultaneously with the parameters of the investment stream. Plant level panel data for a select group of steel plants employing a common technology are used to estimate the model. Our primary finding is that when using a simple Cobb Douglas production function, the estimated efficiency schedules appear to follow a geometric pattern, which is consistent with the estimates of economic depreciation of Hulten and Wykoff (1981). Results from more flexible functional forms produced much less precise and unreliable estimates.
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