NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Growth Accounting When Technical Change is Embodied in Capital

Charles R. Hulten

NBER Working Paper No. 3971
Issued in January 1992
NBER Program(s):   PR

Many technological innovations are introduced through improvements in the design of new investment goods, thus raising the possibility that capital-embodied technical change may be a significant source of total factor productivity growth. There are, however, no systematic estimates of the size of the embodiment effect. This paper attempts to fill this gap by merging the estimates of quality change obtained from the price literature on quality change with a version of the conventional sources of growth model which allows for both embodied and disembodied technical change. This resulting estimates suggest that as much as 20 percent of the total factor productivity in growth U.S. manufacturing industry over the period 1949-83 is due to the embodiment effect. It is also found that for the equipment used in U.S. manufacturing, best practice technology may be as much as 23 percent above the average level of technical efficiency.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3971

Published: American Economic Review, Vol. 82, no. 4 (1992): 964-980.

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