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The inflation-productivity trade-off revisited


  • George C. Bitros

    (Athens University of Economics & Business)

  • Epameinondas E. Panas

    (Athens University of Economics & Business)


Our aim in this paper is threefold. First, to test the robustness of the relation between total factor productivity growth and inflation to the specification of the estimating model; second, to test the stability of their relationship in the short run and in the long run, and third, to investigate the direction of causality between these two variables. To accomplish the first objective, we esti-mate a generalized Box-Box cost function using data from the two-digit Standard Industrial Clas- sification of manufacturing industries in Greece during the period 1964- 1980. The results show that: a) the acceleration of inflation from 1964- 1972 to 1973-1980 reduced total factor productiv-ity growth in a way that was both statistically significant and sizeable, and b) even when the ef-fect of inflation is separated from the effects of technical change and economies of scale, the choice of functional form is most crucial. With respect to the second objective, somewhat to our surprise, we find that the inflation-productivity trade-off prevails even in the long run. And, fi-nally, regarding the third objective, it emerges that in the great majority of two-digit manufactur-ing industries the causality runs from inflation to productivity. On these grounds we conclude that for a precise estimation of the relationship under consideration it is imperative to sort out the three effects involved, do so by adopting the most general flexible functional form for the cost function, and run the appropriate stability and causality tests.

Suggested Citation

  • George C. Bitros & Epameinondas E. Panas, 2005. "The inflation-productivity trade-off revisited," Macroeconomics 0512012, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0512012 Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Clark, Todd E, 1997. "Cross-country Evidence on Long-Run Growth and Inflation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 70-81, January.
    2. Christensen, Laurits R & Jorgenson, Dale W & Lau, Lawrence J, 1973. "Transcendental Logarithmic Production Frontiers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(1), pages 28-45, February.
    3. David Smyth, 1995. "The supply side effects of inflation in the United States: evidence from multifactor productivity," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(12), pages 482-483.
    4. Christensen, Laurits R & Jorgenson, Dale W & Lau, Lawrence J, 1975. "Transcendental Logarithmic Utility Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 367-383, June.
    5. Fischer, Stanley, 1993. "The role of macroeconomic factors in growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 485-512, December.
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    8. Granger, C. W. J., 1988. "Some recent development in a concept of causality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1-2), pages 199-211.
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    10. Appelbaum, Elie, 1979. "On the Choice of Functional Forms," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 20(2), pages 449-458, June.
    11. Diewert, W E, 1971. "An Application of the Shephard Duality Theorem: A Generalized Leontief Production Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(3), pages 481-507, May-June.
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    More about this item


    inflation; productivity; scale economies; technical change; generalized Box-Cox cost function; stability; causality;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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