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Rejecting Capital-Skill Complementarity at all Costs

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  • Frondel, Manuel

    () (RWI)

  • Schmidt, Christoph M.

    () (RWI)

Abstract

Any serious empirical study of factor substitutability has to allow the data to display complementarity as well as substitutability. The standard approach reflecting this idea is a translog specification - this is also the approach used by numerous studies analyzing the relative capital-skill complementarity hypothesis formulated by GRILICHES (1969). According to this hypothesis, the degree of substitutability between skilled labor and capital is lower than that for unskilled labor and capital. Yet, the results of empirical studies investigating this hypothesis are controversial. This paper offers a straightforward explanation: Using a translog approach reduces the issue of factor substitutability or complementarity to a question of cost shares. Our review of translog studies mentioned in HAMERMESH’s (1993) summary on the demand for heterogeneous labor demonstrates that this argument is empirically relevant - all these studies can be reconciled with each other on the basis of the cost-share argument.

Suggested Citation

  • Frondel, Manuel & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2001. "Rejecting Capital-Skill Complementarity at all Costs," IZA Discussion Papers 316, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp316
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Felix Fitzroy & Michael Funke, 1998. "Skills, Wages and Employment in East and West Germany," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(5), pages 459-467.
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    3. Bellmann Lutz & Bender Stefan & Schänk Thorsten, 1999. "Flexibilität der Qualifikationsstruktur aus betrieblicher Sicht: Substitutionalität oder Komplementarität / Flexibility of Firms’ Labor Demand: Substitutability or Complementarity," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 219(1-2), pages 109-126, February.
    4. Berger, Mark C., 1984. "Increases in energy prices, costs of production, and plant size," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 345-357, August.
    5. Kumbhakar, Subal C., 1997. "Modeling allocative inefficiency in a translog cost function and cost share equations: An exact relationship," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1-2), pages 351-356.
    6. Berndt, Ernst R & Christensen, Laurits R, 1974. "Testing for the Existence of a Consistent Aggregate Index of Labor Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 391-404, June.
    7. Bergstrom, Villy & Panas, Epaminondas E, 1992. "How Robust Is the Capital-Skill Complementarity Hypothesis?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 540-546, August.
    8. Turnovsky, Michelle H L & Donnelly, William A, 1984. "Energy Substitution, Separability, and Technical Progress in the Australian Iron and Steel Industry," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 2(1), pages 54-63, January.
    9. Freeman, Richard B & Medoff, James L, 1982. "Substitution between Production Labor and Other Inputs in Unionized and Nonunionized Manufacturing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(2), pages 220-233, May.
    10. Manuel Frondel & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2002. "The Capital-Energy Controversy: An Artifact of Cost Shares?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 53-79.
    11. Ryan, David L. & Wales, Terence J., 2000. "Imposing local concavity in the translog and generalized Leontief cost functions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 253-260, June.
    12. Denny, Michael & Fuss, Melvyn A, 1977. "The Use of Approximation Analysis to Test for Separability and the Existence of Consistent Aggregates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 404-418, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Manuel Frondel & Peter Behl & Holger Dette & Harald Tauchmann, 2011. "Choice is Suffering: A Focused Information Criterion for Model Selection Activation Program for Disadvantaged Youths," Ruhr Economic Papers 0250, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Michel Dumont, 2006. "Foreign outsourcing, labour demand and the choice of functional form," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 9, pages 255-273, November.
    3. Behl, Peter & Dette, Holger & Frondel, Manuel & Tauchmann, Harald, 2011. "Choice is Suffering: A Focused Information Criterion for Model Selection Activation Program for Disadvantaged Youths," Ruhr Economic Papers 250, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    4. repec:zbw:rwidps:0038 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:zbw:rwirep:0264 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Peter Behl & Holger Dette & Manuel Frondel & Harald Tauchmann, 2011. "Being Focused: When the Purpose of Inference Matters for Model Selection," Ruhr Economic Papers 0264, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    7. Frondel, Manuel & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2006. "On the Restrictiveness of Separability: The Significance of Energy in German Manufacturing," RWI Discussion Papers 38, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung.
    8. Behl, Peter & Dette, Holger & Frondel, Manuel & Tauchmann, Harald, 2013. "Energy substitution: When model selection depends on the focus," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 233-238.
    9. Ljubica Nedelkoska & Simon Wiederhold, 2010. "Technology, outsourcing, and the demand for heterogeneous labor: Exploring the industry dimension," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-052, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    10. repec:zbw:rwirep:0256 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Behl, Peter & Dette, Holger & Frondel, Manuel & Tauchmann, Harald, 2012. "Choice is suffering: A Focused Information Criterion for model selection," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 817-822.
    12. Frondel, Manuel, 2011. "Modeling Energy and Non-energy Substitution – A Survey of Elasticities," Ruhr Economic Papers 256, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    13. Eva, MORENO GALBIS, 2002. "Changes in the skill structure of the labour force. An empirical application to the Spanish case," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2002035, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    14. Manuel Frondel, 2011. "Modeling Energy and Non-energy Substitution – A Survey of Elasticities," Ruhr Economic Papers 0256, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    15. Behl, Peter & Dette, Holger & Frondel, Manuel & Tauchmann, Harald, 2011. "Being Focused: When the Purpose of Inference Matters for Model Selection," Ruhr Economic Papers 264, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    16. Manuel Frondel & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2006. "On the Restrictiveness of Separability: The Significance of Energy in German Manufacturing," RWI Discussion Papers 0038, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung.
    17. repec:zbw:rwirep:0250 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Frondel, Manuel, 2011. "Modelling energy and non-energy substitution: A brief survey of elasticities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 4601-4604, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Translog Cost Function; Substitutability;

    JEL classification:

    • C3 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations

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