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The shape of aggregate production functions: evidence from estimates of the World Technology Frontier

The article provides multifaceted evidence on the shape of the aggregate country-level production function, derived from the World Technology Frontier, estimated on the basis of annual data on inputs and output in 19 highly developed OECD countries in the period 1970–2004. A comparison of its estimates based on Data Envelopment Analysis and Bayesian Stochastic Frontier Analysis uncovers a number of significant discrepancies between the nonparametric estimates of the frontier and the Cobb–Douglas and translog production functions in terms of implied efficiency levels, partial elasticities, and returns-to-scale properties. Furthermore, the two latter characteristics as well as elasticities of substitution are found to differ markedly across countries and time, providing strong evidence against the constant-returns-to-scale (CRS) Cobb–Douglas specification, frequently used in related literature. We also find notable departures from perfect substitutability between unskilled and skilled labor, consistent with the hypotheses of skill-biased technical change and capital–skill complementarity. In the Appendix, as a corollary from our results, we have also conducted a series of development accounting and growth accounting exercises.

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Paper provided by National Bank of Poland, Economic Institute in its series National Bank of Poland Working Papers with number 102.

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Length: 61
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbp:nbpmis:102
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  18. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
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  25. Léopold Simar & Paul Wilson, 2000. "Statistical Inference in Nonparametric Frontier Models: The State of the Art," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 49-78, January.
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  27. Battese, G E & Coelli, T J, 1995. "A Model for Technical Inefficiency Effects in a Stochastic Frontier Production Function for Panel Data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 325-32.
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