Munich Personal RePEc Archive

A Theory of Total Factor Productivity and the Convergence Hypothesis: Workers’ Innovations as an Essential Element

Harashima, Taiji (2009): A Theory of Total Factor Productivity and the Convergence Hypothesis: Workers’ Innovations as an Essential Element.

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Abstract

A theory of total factor productivity (TFP) is needed to explain why substantial differences in international income have been observed. This paper presents a theory of TFP that incorporates workers’ innovations. Because workers are human and capable of creative intellectual activities, they can create innovations even if these innovations are minor. The creative activities of ordinary workers have been almost entirely neglected in economics even though the importance of workers’ learning activities has been emphasized by the theories of learning-by-doing and human capital. I examine this creative element and show that innovations created by ordinary workers are indispensable for efficient production. A production function incorporating workers’ innovations is shown to have a Cobb-Douglas functional form with a labor share of about 70%. The production function offers a microfoundation of the Cobb-Douglas production function and more importantly indicates that heterogeneous parameter values with regard to workers’ innovations are essential factors of the currently observed substantial income difference across economies.

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