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GDP, Technical Change, and the Measurement of Net Income: the Weitzman Model Revisited

  • Charles R. Hulten
  • Paul Schreyer
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    We show how technical change, measured as a shift in the GDP function, is combined with net income to track welfare change. This provides a bridge between the productivity literature and the welfare-related literature that tends to reason in terms of net product functions: although the relevant income measure is net of depreciation, productivity is measured based on gross output. We show that net product, net income, net expenditure and productivity change are complements, not substitutes. We also examine whether holding gains and losses should be part of depreciation and conclude that in a general equilibrium setting, either productivity change or holding gains should be part of an extended Weitzman-type net income measure, but not both.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16010.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16010.

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    Date of creation: May 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16010
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    1. Varian, Hal R, 1982. "The Nonparametric Approach to Demand Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 945-73, July.
    2. Martin L. Weitzman, 1976. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in a Dynamic Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(1), pages 156-162.
    3. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
    4. Asheim, Geir B, 1994. " Net National Product as an Indicator of Sustainability," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(2), pages 257-65.
    5. Ulrich R. Kohli, 1978. "A Gross National Product Function and the Derived Demand for Imports and Supply of Exports," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 11(2), pages 167-82, May.
    6. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G., 2002. "Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 963-991, June.
    7. Eisner, Robert, 1988. "Extended Accounts for National Income and Product," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 1611-84, December.
    8. Triplett, Jack E, 1996. "Depreciation in Production Analysis and in Income and Wealth Accounts: Resolution of an Old Debate," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 93-115, January.
    9. Asheim, Geir B., 1996. "Capital gains and net national product in open economies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 419-434, March.
    10. Diewart, W Erwin & Morrison, Catherine J, 1986. "Adjusting Output and Productivity Indexes for Changes in the Terms of Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(383), pages 659-79, September.
    11. Dale W. Jorgenson & J. Steven Landefeld, 2009. "Implementation of a New Architecture for the US National Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 64-68, May.
    12. J. A. Sefton & M. R. Weale, 2006. "The Concept of Income in a General Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 219-249.
    13. D. W. Jorgenson & Z. Griliches, 1967. "The Explanation of Productivity Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 249-283.
    14. Feldstein, Martin S & Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Towards an Economic Theory of Replacement Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(3), pages 393-423, May.
    15. W. Erwin Diewert, 2005. "Issues in the Measurement of Capital Services, Depreciation, Asset Price Changes, and Interest Rates," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 479-556 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Patinkin, Don, 1973. "In Search of the "Wheel of Wealth": On the Origins of Frank Knight's Circular-Flow Diagram," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(5), pages 1037-46, December.
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