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Factor Replacement versus Factor Substitution, Mechanization and Asymptotic Harrod Neutrality

  • Danny Givon
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    This paper views technical change as a labor-saving, but capital-using, mechanization process, whereby capital replaces labor; though within any given technique, factors have a limited ability to substitute one another. This is formalized by reinterpreting the “distribution-parameters” of a low substitution CES aggregate production function as time-varying weights, such that technical change corresponds to a decrease in labor’s weight, along with an increase in capital’s. This “direction” of shift is considered a natural outcome of the fact that ideas are embedded within capital. As capital’s weight tends to one, changes in it become increasingly negligible and balanced-growth is attained. Thus the proposed non-neutral mechanism is asymptotically equivalent to Harrod-neutrality. But during industrialization, when capital grows faster than output, its “dis-augmentation” is still significant; the result being constant factor-shares. This resolves a recent controversy regarding the measurement of TFP growth, specifically in East Asian NICs. The capital-using aspect of factors’ replacement, along with the limited degree of factor substitution, also lead to time-ranked “appropriate-technologies”, which are broadly consistent with under-development; despite the lack of non-convexities.

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    File URL: http://degit.sam.sdu.dk/papers/degit_11/C011_028.pdf
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    Paper provided by DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade in its series DEGIT Conference Papers with number c011_028.

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    Length: 41 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c011_028
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    1. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Krusell, Per, 1997. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 342-62, June.
    2. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
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    17. Rodrik, Dani, 1997. "TFPG Controversies, Institutions, and Economic Performance in East Asia," CEPR Discussion Papers 1587, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    18. Locay, Luis, 1990. "Economic Development and the Division of Production between Households and Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 965-82, October.
    19. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 92-96, May.
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    21. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "A New View of Technological Change," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 79(315), pages 573-78, September.
    22. Abramovitz, Moses & David, Paul A, 1973. "Reinterpreting Economic Growth: Parables and Realities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 428-39, May.
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