Assessing the Productivity of Information Technology Equipment in U.S. Manufacturing Industries

Catherine J. Morrison, Ernst R. Berndt

NBER Working Paper No. 3582
Issued in January 1991
NBER Program(s):   PR

In this paper we report results of an empirical assessment of the cost reducing impacts of recent dramatic increases in stocks of "high-tech" office and information technology equipment (0) using annual data from various two digit US manufacturing industries over the 1952-1986 time period. While there are exceptions, on balance we find that in 1986, estimated marginal benefits of investments in this 0 equipment are less than marginal costs, implying over investment in 0 capital in 1986. The sign of the estimated elasticity of demand for labor with respect to changes in the stock of 0 capital is evenly divided in the fourteen industries, but whether positive or negative, in all industries this elasticity increases in absolute magnitude over time, indicating ever greater impacts of 0 capital on the demand for aggregate labor. Finally, our estimates of the elasticity of technical progress with respect to 0-capital are very small in magnitude implying that increases in o capital have only a small impact on technical progress.

download in pdf format
   (399 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (399 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3582


  • Published as "Productive and Financial Performance in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: An Integrated Structural Approach", SEJ, Vol. 60, no. 2(1993): 376-392. ,
  • Published as "High-Tech Capital Formation and Economic Performance in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: An Exploratory Analysis", JE. Published as "Assessing Productivity of Information Technology Equipment in U.S. Manufacturing Industries", Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 79, no. 3 (1997): 471-481.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Lichtenberg w4540 The Output Contributions of Computer Equipment and Personnel: A Firm- Level Analysis
Siegel and Griliches w3678 Purchased Services, Outsourcing, Computers, and Productivity in Manufacturing
Griliches and Mairesse R&D and Productivity Growth: Comparing Japanese and U.S. Manufacturing Firms
Morrison w3828 Investment in Capital Assets and Economic Performance: The U.S. Chemicals and Primary Metals Industries in Transition
Bartel, Ichniowski, and Shaw w11773 How Does Information Technology Really Affect Productivity? Plant-Level Comparisons of Product Innovation, Process Improvement and Worker Skills

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us