Elasticity of substitution between capital and labor: a panel data approach

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This paper estimates the elasticity of substitution of an aggregate production function. The estimating equation is derived from the steady state of a neoclassical growth model. The data comes from the PWT in which different countries face different relative prices of the investment good and exhibit different investment-output ratios. Then, using this variation we estimate the elasticity of substitution. The novelty of our approach is that we use dynamic panel data techniques, which allow us to distinguish between the short and the long run elasticity and handle a host of econometric and substantive issues. In particular we accommodate the possibility that different countries have different total factor productivities and other country specific effects and that such effects are correlated with the regressors. We also accommodate the possibility that the regressors are correlated with the error terms and that shocks to regressors are manifested in future periods. Taking all this into account our estimation resuIts suggest that the Iong run eIasticity of substitution is 0.7, which is Iower than the eIasticity that had been used in previous macro-deveIopment exercises. We show that this lower eIasticity reinforces the power of the neoclassical mo deI to expIain income differences across countries as coming from differential distortions.

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