DP13592 A Short Note on Aggregating Productivity

Author(s): David Rezza Baqaee, Emmanuel Farhi
Publication Date: March 2019
Date Revised: March 2019
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Programme Areas: Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13592

This paper provides two simple and economically-interpretable decompositions for aggregate productivity analysis in the presence of distortions and in general equilibrium. In the process, we propose a new "distorted" Solow residual which, contrary to the traditional Solow residual, accurately measures changes in aggregate productivity in disaggregated economies with distortions. Our formulas apply to any collection of producers ranging from one isolated producer to an industry or to an entire economy. They can be useful for empiricists and theorists alike. Potential applications of these formulas include: (1) decomposing aggregate productivity into its microeconomic sources, separating technical and allocative efficiency; (2) aggregating microeconomic estimates (for example, from natural experiments) to assess macroeconomic effects; (3) constructing and interpreting aggregate counterfactuals. Despite their simplicity, the formulas are general, allowing for production networks, multi-product firms, and non-constant returns. They are also entirely nonparametric. They only assume market clearing and cost minimization.