Aggregate Productivity and the Productivity of Aggregates

51 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2000 Last revised: 24 Sep 2010

See all articles by Susanto Basu

Susanto Basu

Boston College, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John G. Fernald

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Date Written: December 1995

Abstract

Explanations of procyclical productivity play a key role in a variety of business-cycle models. Most of these models, however, explain this procyclicality within a representative-firm paradigm. This procedure is misleading. We decompose aggregate productivity changes into several terms, each of which has an economic interpretation. However, many of these terms measure composition effects such as reallocations of inputs across productive units. We apply this decomposition to U.S. data by aggregating from roughly the two-digit level to the private economy. We find that the compositional terms are significantly procyclical. Controlling for these terms virtually eliminates the evidence for increasing returns to scale, and implies that input growth is uncorrelated with technology change.

Suggested Citation

Basu, Susanto and Fernald, John G., Aggregate Productivity and the Productivity of Aggregates (December 1995). NBER Working Paper No. w5382. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225444

Susanto Basu (Contact Author)

Boston College, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3806
United States
617-552-2308 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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John G. Fernald

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco ( email )

101 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States
415-974-2135 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.frbsf.org/economics/economists/jfernald.html

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