Ezra Oberfield

Department of Economics
Princeton University
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building
Princeton, NJ 08544
Tel: 609/258-3846

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: EFG
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

September 2017The Productivity Slowdown and the Declining Labor Share: A Neoclassical Exploration
with Gene M. Grossman, Elhanan Helpman, Thomas Sampson: w23853
We explore the possibility that a global productivity slowdown is responsible for the widespread decline in the labor share of national income. In a neoclassical growth model with endogenous human capital accumulation a la Ben Porath (1967) and capital-skill complementarity a la Grossman et al. (2017), the steady-state labor share is positively correlated with the rates of capital-augmenting and labor-augmenting technological progress. We calibrate the key parameters describing the balanced growth path to U.S. data for the early postwar period and find that a one percentage point slowdown in the growth rate of per capita income can account for between one half and all of the observed decline in the U.S. labor share.
January 2016The Global Diffusion of Ideas
with Francisco J. Buera: w21844
We provide a tractable theory of innovation and technology diffusion to explore the role of international trade in the process of development. We model innovation and diffusion as a process involving the combination of new ideas with insights from other industries or countries. We provide conditions under which each country's equilibrium frontier of knowledge converges to a Frechet distribution, and derive a system of differential equations describing the evolution of the scale parameters of these distributions, i.e., countries' stocks of knowledge. In particular, the growth of a country's stock of knowledge depends only on its trade shares and the stocks of knowledge of its trading partners. We use the framework to quantify the contribution of bilateral trade costs to cross-sectional TFP ...
Balanced Growth Despite Uzawa
with Gene M. Grossman, Elhanan Helpman, Thomas Sampson: w21861
The evidence for the United States points to balanced growth despite falling investment-good prices and an elasticity of substitution between capital and labor less than one. This is inconsistent with the Uzawa Growth Theorem. We extend Uzawa's theorem to show that the introduction of human capital accumulation in the standard way does not resolve the puzzle. However, balanced growth is possible if schooling is endogenous and capital is more complementary with schooling than with raw labor. We describe balanced growth paths for a variety of neoclassical growth models with capital-augmenting technological progress and endogenous schooling. The balanced growth path in an overlapping-generations model in which individuals choose the duration of their education matches key features of the U.S....

Published: Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman & Ezra Oberfield & Thomas Sampson, 2017. "Balanced Growth Despite Uzawa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(4), pages 1293-1312, April. citation courtesy of

September 2014Micro Data and Macro Technology
with Devesh Raval: w20452
We develop a framework to estimate the aggregate capital-labor elasticity of substitution by aggregating the actions of individual plants, and use it to assess the decline in labor's share of income in the US manufacturing sector. The aggregate elasticity reflects substitution within plants and reallocation across plants; the extent of heterogeneity in capital intensities determines their relative importance. We use micro data on the cross-section of plants to build up to the aggregate elasticity at a point in time. Our approach places no assumptions on the evolution of technology, so we can separately identify shifts in technology and changes in response to factor prices. We find that the aggregate elasticity for the US manufacturing sector has been stable since 1970 at about 0.7. Mechani...
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