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Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale, NBER Macroeconomics Annual


This paper studies the implications of procyclical capital utilization rates for inference regarding cyclical movements in labor productivity and the degree of returns to scale. We organize our investigation around five questions that we study using a measure of capital services based on electricity consumption: (1) Is the phenomenon of near or actual short-run increasing returns to labor an artifact of the failure to accurately measure capital utilization rates? (2) Can we find a significant role for capital services in aggregate and industry-level production technologies? (3) Is there evidence against the hypothesis of constant returns to scale? (4) Can we reject the notion that the residuals in our estimated production functions represent technology shocks? (5) How does correcting for cyclical variations in capital services affect the statistical properties of estimated aggregate technology shocks? The answer to the first two questions is yes. The answer to the third and fourth questions is no. The answer to the fifth question is "a lot."




Craig Burnside, Martin S. Eichenbaum, Sergio Rebelo

Date Published



Burnside, Craig, Martin S. Eichenbaum, and Sergio Rebelo. 1995. Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale. NBER Macroeconomics Annual. 10: 67-110.


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