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A microfoundation for normalized CES production functions with factor-augmenting technical change

We derive the aggregate normalized CES production function from idea-based microfoundations where firms are allowed to choose their capital- and labor-augmenting technology optimally from a menu of available technologies. This menu is in turn augmented through factor-specific R&D. The considered model yields a number of interesting results. First, normalization of the production function can be maintained simultaneously at the local and at the aggregate level, greatly facilitating interpretation of the aggregate production function’s parameters in terms of the underlying idea distributions. Second, in line with earlier findings, if capital- and labor-augmenting ideas are independently Weibull-distributed then the aggregate production function is CES; if they are independently Pareto-distributed, then it is Cobb–Douglas. Third, by disentangling technology choice by firms from R&D output, one can draw a clearcut distinction between the direction of R&D and the direction of technical change actually observed in the economy, which are distinct concepts. Fourth, it is argued that the Weibull distribution should be a good approximation of the true unit factor productivity distribution (and thus the CES should be a good approximation of the true aggregate production function) if a “technology” is in fact an assembly of a large number of complementary components. This argument is illustrated with a novel, tractable model of directed (factor-specific) R&D. Finally, it is shown that all our results carry forward to the general case of n-input production functions.

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Paper provided by National Bank of Poland, Economic Institute in its series National Bank of Poland Working Papers with number 98.

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Length: 39
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbp:nbpmis:98
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Veronica Guerrieri, 2006. "Capital Deepening and Non-Balanced Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 12475, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Klump, Rainer & McAdam, Peter & Willman, Alpo, 2011. "The normalized CES production function: theory and empirics," Working Paper Series 1294, European Central Bank.
  3. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Labor- and Capital- Augmenting Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 7544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
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  7. Caselli, Francesco & Coleman II, Wilbur John, 2000. "The World Technology Frontier," CEPR Discussion Papers 2584, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Jakub Growiec, 2008. "A new class of production functions and an argument against purely labor-augmenting technical change," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 4(4), pages 483-502.
  9. Daron Acemoglu, 2005. "Equilibrium Bias of Technology," NBER Working Papers 11845, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Miguel A. Le�n-Ledesma & Peter McAdam & Alpo Willman, 2010. "Identifying the Elasticity of Substitution with Biased Technical Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1330-57, September.
  11. Miguel A. Leon-Ledesma & Mathan Satchi, 2011. "The Choice of CES Production Techniques and Balanced Growth," Studies in Economics 1113, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  12. Klump, Rainer & Preissler, Harald, 2000. " CES Production Functions and Economic Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 41-56, March.
  13. Growiec, Jakub, 2008. "Production functions and distributions of unit factor productivities: Uncovering the link," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 87-90, October.
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  16. Palivos, Theodore & Karagiannis, Giannis, 2010. "The Elasticity Of Substitution As An Engine Of Growth," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(05), pages 617-628, November.
  17. Mihaela Pintea & Peter Thompson, 2005. "Technological Complexity and Economic Growth," Working Papers 0502, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  18. Nakamura, Hideki, 2009. "Micro-foundation for a constant elasticity of substitution production function through mechanization," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 464-472, September.
  19. Jakub Growiec, 2007. "Beyond the Linearity Critique: The Knife-edge Assumption of Steady-state Growth," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 489-499, June.
  20. Olivier de La Grandville & Rainer Klump, 2000. "Economic Growth and the Elasticity of Substitution: Two Theorems and Some Suggestions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 282-291, March.
  21. de La Grandville, Olivier, 1989. "Erratum [In Quest of the Slutsky Diamond]," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1307, December.
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  23. Charles I. Jones, 2011. "Intermediate Goods and Weak Links in the Theory of Economic Development," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-28, April.
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