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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. 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.
  2. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z. & Krusell, P., 1998. "The Role of Investment-Specific Technological Change in the Business Cycle," RCER Working Papers 449, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Sakellaris, Plutarchos, 2004. "Patterns of plant adjustment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 425-450, March.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Mark Doms & Timothy Dunne, 1994. "Capital Adjustment Patterns in Manufacturing Plants," Working Papers 94-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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  10. McHugh, Richard & Lane, Julia, 1987. "The Age of Capital, the Age of Utilized Capital, and Tests of the Embodiment Hypothesis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(2), pages 362-67, May.
  11. John G. Fernald & Susanto Basu, 1999. "Why is productivity procyclical? Why do we care?," International Finance Discussion Papers 638, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Russell Cooper & John Haltiwanger & Laura Power, 1995. "Machine Replacement and the Business Cycle: Lumps and Bumps," NBER Working Papers 5260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. D. W. Jorgenson & Z. Griliches, 1967. "The Explanation of Productivity Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 249-283.
  17. John Shea, 1993. "Do Supply Curves Slope Up?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 1-32.
  18. 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.
  19. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, March.
  20. 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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  22. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z. & Krusell, P., 1996. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," RCER Working Papers 420, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  23. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995. "Production Functions: The Search for Identification," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1719, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  24. 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.
  25. Boyan Jovanovic & Rafael Rob, 1997. "Solow vs. Solow: Machine Prices and Development," NBER Working Papers 5871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1995. "Capital utilization and returns to scale," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 95-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  27. repec:ucp:bknber:9780226304557 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Greenwood, Jeremy & Yorukoglu, Mehmet, 1997. "1974," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 49-95, June.
    • Greenwood, J. & Yorukoglu, M., 1996. "1974," RCER Working Papers 429, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  29. 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.
  30. R. E. Hall, 1968. "Technical Change and Capital from the Point of View of the Dual," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 35-46.
  31. Charles R. Hulten, 1992. "Growth Accounting When Technical Change is Embodied in Capital," NBER Working Papers 3971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. 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.
  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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