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The Output Contributions of Computer Equipment and Personnel: A Firm- Level Analysis

  • Frank R. Lichtenberg

This paper examines the output contributions of capital and labor deployed in information systems (IS) at the firm level during the period 1988-91 throughout the business sector, using two different sources of data on these inputs. Our production function estimates suggest that there are substantial excess returns to both IS capital and IS labor, although the size and significance of the excess returns to IS capital is larger. Computer capital and labor jointly contribute, or account for, about 21 percent of output, although only about 10% of both capital and labor income accrue to IS factors. Although IS employees accounted for a very small share of total employment by 1986, IS employment growth is estimated to have made a larger contribution to 1976-86 output growth than non-IS employment, due to the very rapid growth (16% per annum) of IS employment. The estimated marginal rate of substitution (MRS) between IS and non-IS employees, evaluated at the sample mean, is 6: one IS employee can be substituted for six non-IS employees without affecting output.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4540.

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Date of creation: Nov 1993
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Economics of Innovation and New Technology, vol. 3, pp. 201-217, 1995
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4540
Note: PR
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  1. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Zvi Griliches, 1992. "Output Measurement in the Service Sectors," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gril92-1.
  3. Berndt, Ernst R. & Morrison, Catherine J. & Rosenblum, Larry S., 1992. "High-tech capital formation and labor composition in U.S. manufacturing industries : an exploratory analysis," Working papers 3414-92., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  4. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-75, August.
  5. Catherine J. Morrison, 2000. "Assessing The Productivity Of Information Technology Equipment In U.S. Manufacturing Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(3), pages 471-481, August.
  6. Donald Siegel & Zvi Griliches, 1991. "Purchased Services, Outsourcing, Computers, and Productivity in Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 3678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lichtenberg, Frank R & Griliches, Zvi, 1989. "Errors of Measurement in Output Deflators," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 7(1), pages 1-9, January.
  8. Martin Neil Baily & Robert J. Gordon, 1988. "The Productivity Slowdown, Measurement Issues, and the Explosion of Computer Power," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 347-432.
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