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The Marginal Product of Capital

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  • Caselli, Francesco
  • Feyrer, James

Abstract

Whether or not the marginal product of capital (MPK) differs across countries is a question that keeps coming up in discussions of comparative economic development and patterns of capital flows. Attempts to provide an empirical answer to this question have so far been mostly indirect and based on heroic assumptions. The first contribution of this paper is to present new estimates of the cross-country dispersion of marginal products. We find that the MPK is much higher on average in poor countries. However, the financial rate of return from investing in physical capital is not much higher in poor countries, so heterogeneity in MPKs is not principally due to financial market frictions. Instead, the main culprit is the relatively high cost of investment goods in developing countries. One implication of our findings is that increased aid flows to developing countries will not significantly increase these countries' incomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Caselli, Francesco & Feyrer, James, 2005. "The Marginal Product of Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 5203, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5203
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    capital flows; investment;

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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