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Labour and capital saving technical change in telecommunications

Madden, Gary G and Bloch, Harry and Coble-Neal, Grant (2002): Labour and capital saving technical change in telecommunications. Published in: Applied Economics No. 14 (2002): pp. 1821-1828.


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The Australian telecommunications sector is being improved and extended through substantial recent investment in intelligent technology such as digital switching, fibre optics, satellite and cellular transmission, and the Internet. These technologies are being progressively integrated with technology from the broadcasting, computer and electronics industries, providing a unified information infrastructure for information transmission and processing. Technological progress embodied in new equipment has the effect of increasing the efficiency of the factors of production. Such efficiency increases can be biased towards a particular factor. For instance, the impact of labour-augmenting technical change is a decline in the cost of labour per unit of production. When such biases are apparent the relativity between the costs of labour and capital per unit of production is changed. In the longer term, technical change can impact on the rate of employment growth and also on the rate of capital accumulation. In this study the Australian telecommunications cost structure is examined for the period 1919 to 1988. To measure labour saving and capital saving technical change a translog cost model is estimated. Multiproduct telecommunications cost studies typically employ the translog cost model (Evans and Heckman, 1984; Roller, 1990a; 1990b; Shin and Ying, 1992; McKenzie and Small, 1997). The translog model places no a priori restrictions on substitution possibilities among the factors of production, and allows scale economies to vary with the level of output.

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