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The Shape of Production Function and the Direction of Technical Change


  • Charles I. Jones


This paper views the standard production function in macroeconomics as a reduced form and derives its properties from microfoundations. The shape of this production function is governed by the distribution of ideas. If that distribution is Pareto, then two results obtain: the global production function is Cobb-Douglas, and technical change in the long run is labor-augmenting. Kortum (1997) showed that Pareto distributions are necessary if search-based idea models are to exhibit steady-state growth. Here we show that this same assumption delivers the additional results about the shape of the production function and the direction of technical change.

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  • Charles I. Jones, 2004. "The Shape of Production Function and the Direction of Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 10457, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10457
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Urban Structure and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 597-624.
    2. Ricardo Lagos, 2006. "A Model of TFP," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 983-1007.
    3. Emmanuel M. Drandakis & Edmond S. Phelps, 1965. "A Model of Induced Invention, Growth and Distribution," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 186, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    4. Dietmar Harhoff & Frederic M. Scherer & Katrin Vopel, 1997. "Exploring the Tail of Patented Invention Value Distributions," CIG Working Papers FS IV 97-27, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
    5. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
    6. Whelan, Karl, 2003. " A Two-Sector Approach to Modeling U.S. NIPA Data," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(4), pages 627-656, August.
    7. Chung, Kee H & Cox, Raymond A K, 1994. "A Stochastic Model of Superstardom: An Application of the Yule Distribution," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(4), pages 771-775, November.
    8. Harrison, Ann, 2005. "Has Globalization Eroded Labor’s Share? Some Cross-Country Evidence," MPRA Paper 39649, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
    10. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
    11. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Krusell, Per, 1997. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 342-362, June.
    12. Grabowski, Henry, 2002. "Patents and New Product Development in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries," Working Papers 02-25, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    13. Córdoba, Juan-Carlos, 2008. "On the distribution of city sizes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 177-197, January.
    14. Samuel S. Kortum, 1997. "Research, Patenting, and Technological Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1389-1420, November.
    15. Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 2000. "Putty-Clay and Investment: A Business Cycle Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 928-960, October.
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    JEL classification:

    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General

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