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Productivity growth in the 1990s: technology, utilization, or adjustment

  • Susanto Basu
  • John G. Fernald
  • Matthew D. Shapiro

Measured productivity growth increased substantially during the second half of the 1990s. This paper examines whether this increase owes to an increase in the rate of technological change or whether it can be explained by non-technological factors relating to factor utilization, factor accumulation, or returns to scale. It finds that the recent increase in productivity growth does appear to arise from an increase in technological change. Cyclical utilization raised measured productivity growth relative to technology growth in the first part of the expansion, but lowered it subsequently. Factor adjustment leads to a steady-state understatement of technology growth by measured productivity growth. The understatement was greater in the second half of the expansion than the first. Changes in the distribution of inputs across industries with different returns to scale lead to a modest understatement in the growth in technology. Although the increase technological change is most pronounced in durable manufacturing, technological change also increased outside of manufacturing.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-01-04.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-01-04
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  1. Miles S. Kimball & John G. Fernald & Susanto Basu, 2006. "Are Technology Improvements Contractionary?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1418-1448, December.
  2. MartinNeil Baily & Robert Z. Lawrence, 2001. "Do We Have a New E-conomy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 308-312, May.
  3. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2001. "Information technology and the U.S. productivity revival: what do the industry data say?," Staff Reports 115, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  4. Robert J. Gordon, 2000. "Does the "New Economy" Measure Up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 49-74, Fall.
  5. Robert E. Hall, 1999. "The Stock Market and Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 7180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
  7. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sérgio, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," CEPR Discussion Papers 1221, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Susanto Basu & John Fernald, 2001. "Why Is Productivity Procyclical? Why Do We Care?," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Analysis, pages 225-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1996. "Macroeconomic Implications of Variation in the Workweek of Capital," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 79-134.
  10. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1998. "Monetary Policy Shocks: What Have We Learned and to What End?," NBER Working Papers 6400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. William D. Nordhaus, 2002. "Productivity Growth and the New Economy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 211-265.
  12. Karl Whelan, 2002. "Computers, Obsolescence, And Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 445-461, August.
  13. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1993. "Dynamic General Equilibrium Models with Imperfectly Competitive Product Markets," NBER Working Papers 4502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles, 1996. "The Effects of Monetary Policy Shocks: Evidence from the Flow of Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 16-34, February.
  15. Andrew B. Abel, 2002. "The effects of a baby boom on stock prices and capital accumulation in the presence of Social Security," Working Papers 03-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  16. Susanto Basu & Miles S. Kimball, 1997. "Cyclical Productivity with Unobserved Input Variation," NBER Working Papers 5915, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: U.S. Economic Growth in the Information Age," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 125-236.
  18. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "Capital Utilization and Capital Accumulation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 1900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "The Dynamic Demand for Capital and Labor," NBER Working Papers 1899, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G., 2002. "Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 963-991, June.
  21. Susanto Basu, 1995. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," NBER Working Papers 5336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Karl Whelan, 2000. "A guide to the use of chain aggregated NIPA data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  23. Robert E. Hall, 2001. "Struggling to Understand the Stock Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 1-11, May.
  24. Michael T. Kiley, 1999. "Computers and growth with costs of adjustment: will the future look like the past?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  25. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  26. Shapiro, Matthew D, 1993. "Cyclical Productivity and the Workweek of Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 229-33, May.
  27. Robert E. Hall, 1980. "Employment Fluctuations and Wage Rigidity," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(1, Tenth ), pages 91-142.
  28. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-17, June.
  29. Christopher A. Sims, 1974. "Output and Labor Input in Manufacturing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 5(3), pages 695-736.
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