The implications of embodiment and Putty-Clay to economic development

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In this paper we construct and analyze a growth model with the following three ingredients. (i) Technological progress is embodied. (ii) The production function of a firm is such that the firm makes both technology upgrade as well as capital and labor decisions. (iii) The firm’s production technology is putty-clay. We assume that there are disincentives to the accumulation of capital, resulting in a divergence between the social and the private cost of investment. We solve a single firm’s problem in this environment. Then we determine general equilibrium prices of capital goods of different vintages. Using these prices we aggregate firms’ decisions and construct the theoretical analogues of National Income statistics. This generates a relationship between disincentives and per capita incomes. We analyze this relationship and show the quantitative and qualitative roles of embodiment and putty-clay. We also show how the model is taken to data, quantified and used to determine to what extent income gaps across countries can be attributed to disincentives.


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