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Reassessing the Social Returns to Equipment Investment

  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • Kevin A. Hassett
  • Stephen D. Oliner

The recent literature on the sources of economic growth has challenged the traditional growth accounting of the Solow model, which assigned a relatively limited role to capital deepening. As part of this literature, De Long and Summers have argued in two papers that the link between equipment investment and economic growth across countries is stronger than can be generated by the Solow model. Accordingly, they conclude that such investment yields important external benefits. However, their analysis suffers from two shortcomings. First, De Long and Summers have not conducted any formal statistical tests of the Solow model. Second, even their informal rejection of the model fails to survive reasonable tests of robustness. We formally test the predictions of the Solow model using De Long and Summers' data. Our results cast doubt on the existence of externalities to equipment investment. In particular, we find that the empirical link between investment and growth in the OECD countries is fully consistent with the Solow model. Moreover, for De Long and Summers' full sample, the evidence of excess returns to equipment investment is tenuous.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4405.

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Date of creation: Jul 1993
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, AUgust 1994
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4405
Note: PE EFG
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  1. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin A. Hassett & Stephen D. Oliner, 1993. "Reassessing the Social Returns to Equipment Investment," NBER Working Papers 4405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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