This book is licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0 license. See the license for more details, but that basically means you can share this book as long as you credit the author (but see below), don't make money from it, and do make it available to everyone else under the same terms.
This content was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.
Normally, the author and publisher would be credited here. However, the publisher has asked for the customary Creative Commons attribution to the original publisher, authors, title, and book URI to be removed. Additionally, per the publisher's request, their name has been removed in some passages. More information is available on this project's attribution page.
For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. You can browse or download additional books there. To download a .zip file containing this book to use offline, simply click here.
Growth accounting is a tool that tells us how changes in real gross domestic product (real GDP) in an economy are due to changes in available capital, labor, human capital, and technology. Economists have shown that, under reasonably general circumstances, the change in output in an economy can be written as follows:output growth rate = a × capital stock growth rate + [(1 − a) × labor hours growth rate]+ [(1 − a) × human capital growth rate] + technology growth rate.
In this equation, a is just a number. For example, if a = 1/3, the growth in output is as follows:output growth rate = (1/3 × capital stock growth rate) + (2/3 × labor hours growth rate)+ (2/3 × human capital growth rate) + technology growth rate.
Growth rates can be positive or negative, so we can use this equation to analyze decreases in GDP as well as increases. This expression for the growth rate of output, by the way, is obtained by applying the rules of growth rates (discussed in Section 16.11 "Growth Rates") to the Cobb-Douglas aggregate production function (discussed in Section 16.15 "The Aggregate Production Function").
What can we measure in this expression? We can measure the growth in output, the growth in the capital stock, and the growth in labor hours. Human capital is more difficult to measure, but we can use information on schooling, literacy rates, and so forth. We cannot, however, measure the growth rate of technology. So we use the growth accounting equation to infer the growth in technology from the things we can measure. Rearranging the growth accounting equation,technology growth rate = output growth rate − (a × capital stock growth rate)− [(1 − a) × labor hours growth rate] − [(1 − a) × human capital growth rate].
So if we know the number a, we are done—we can use measures of the growth in output, labor, capital stock, and human capital to solve for the technology growth rate. In fact, we do have a way of measuring a. The technical details are not important here, but a good measure of (1 − a) is simply the total payments to labor in the economy (that is, the total of wages and other compensation) as a fraction of overall GDP. For most economies, a is in the range of about 1/3 to 1/2.