Energy, Obsolescence, and the Productivity Slowdown
The growth rate of output per worker in the U.S. declined sharply during the 1970's. A leading explanation of this phenomenon holds that the dramatic rise in energy prices during the 1970's caused a significant portion of the U.S. capital stock to become obsolete. This led to a decline in effective capital input which, in turn, caused a reduction in the reduction in the growth rate of output per worker. This paper examines a key prediction of this hypothesis. If there is a significant link between energy and capital obsolescence, it should be revealed in the market price of used capital: if rising energy costs did in fact render older, energy-inefficient capital obsolete, prospective buyers should have reduced the price that they were willing to pay for that capital. An examination of the market for used capital before and after the energy price shocks should thus reveal the presence and magnitude of the obsolescence effect. We have carried out this examination for four types of used machine tools and five types of construction equipment. We did not find a general reduction in the price of used equipment after the energy price shocks. Indeed, the price of used construction equipment - the more energy intensive of our two types of capital - tended to increase after 1973. We thus conclude that our data do not support the obsolescence explanation of the productivity of slowdown.
|Date of creation:||Oct 1987|
|Publication status:||published as in Technology and Captial Formation, Ed. Dale Jorgenson and Ralph Landers, MIT Press, 1989.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- William D. Nordhaus, 1980. "Policy Responses to the Productivity Slowdown," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 555, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Martin Neil Baily, 1981. "Productivity and the Services of Capital and Labor," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 1-66.
- Berndt, Ernst R & Wood, David O, 1979. "Engineering and Econometric Interpretations of Energy-Capital Complementarity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 342-354, June.
- Robert H. Rasche & John A. Tatom, 1977. "The effects of the new energy regime on economic capacity, production, and prices," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 2-12.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2404. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.