We use micro data for 10,412 U.S. manufacturing plants to estimate the degrees of factor substitution by industry and by plant size. We find that (1) capital, labor, energy and materials are substitutes in production, and (2) the degrees of substitution among inputs are quite similar across plant sizes in a majority of industries. Two important implications of these findings are that (1) small plants are typically as flexible as large plants in factor substitution; consequently, economic policies such energy conservation policies that result in rising energy prices would not cause negative effects on either large or small U.S. manufacturing plants; and (2) since energy and capital are found to be substitutes, the 1973 energy crisis is unlikely to be a significant factor contributing to the post 1973 productivity slowdown.
Small Business Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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