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Quantifying embodied technological change

  • Plutarchos Sakellaris
  • Daniel J. Wilson

We estimate the rate of embodied technological change directly from plant-level manufacturing data on current output and input choices along with histories on their vintages of equipment investment. Our estimates range between 8 and 17 percent for the typical U.S. manufacturing plant during the years 1972-1996. Any number in this range is substantially larger than is conventionally accepted with some important implications. First, the role of investment-specific technological change as an engine of growth is even larger than previously estimated. Second, existing producer durable price indices do not adequately account for quality change. As a result, measured capital stock growth is biased. Third, if accurate, the Hulten and Wykoff (1981) economic depreciation rates may primarily reflect obsolescence.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2001-16.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Publication status: Published in Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 7, no. 1 , January 2004, Pages 1-26
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2001-16
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  1. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sérgio, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," CEPR Discussion Papers 1221, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 2000. "Why is productivity procyclical? Why do we care?," Working Paper Series WP-00-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Plutarchos Sakellaris, 2000. "Patterns of Plant Adjustment," Electronic Working Papers 00-001, University of Maryland, Department of Economics.
  4. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Trade in Capital Goods," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-109, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  5. Huggett, Mark & Ospina, Sandra, 2001. "Does productivity growth fall after the adoption of new technology?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 173-195, August.
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  8. John Shea, 1993. "Do Supply Curves Slope Up?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 1-32.
  9. Timothy Dunne, 1991. "Technology Usage in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: New Evidence from the Survey of Manufacturing Technology," Working Papers 91-7, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Bahk, Byong-Hong & Gort, Michael, 1993. "Decomposing Learning by Doing in New Plants," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 561-83, August.
  11. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  12. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell, 1996. "Can Technology Improvements Cause Productivity Slowdowns?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 209-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Martin Neil Baily & Eric J. Bartelsman & John Haltiwanger, 2001. "Labor Productivity: Structural Change And Cyclical Dynamics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 420-433, August.
  14. Mark E. Doms & Timothy Dunne, 1998. "Capital Adjustment Patterns in Manufacturing Plants," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(2), pages 409-429, April.
  15. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995. "Production Functions: The Search for Identification," NBER Working Papers 5067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    • Jeremy Greenwood & Boyan Jovanovic, 2001. "Accounting for Growth," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Analysis, pages 179-224 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. D. W. Jorgenson & Z. Griliches, 1967. "The Explanation of Productivity Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 249-283.
  18. John Haltiwanger & Russell Cooper & Laura Power, 1999. "Machine Replacement and the Business Cycle: Lumps and Bumps," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 921-946, September.
  19. 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.
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  23. Franklin M. Fisher, 1965. "Embodied Technical Change and the Existence of an Aggregate Capital Stock," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(4), pages 263-288.
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  26. Hulten, Charles R, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change Is Embodied in Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 964-80, September.
  27. repec:umd:umdeco:sakellaris0001 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Bartelsman, Eric J & Caballero, Ricardo J & Lyons, Richard K, 1994. "Customer- and Supplier-Driven Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1075-84, September.
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  30. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1962. "The Economic Implications of Learning by Doing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 155-173.
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  33. Stephen D. Oliner, 1990. "Constant-quality price change, depreciation, and retirement of mainframe computers," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 110, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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