Changing Utilization of Fixed Capital: An Element in Long-Term Growth

Changing Utilization of Fixed Capital: An Element in Long-Term Growth

Changing Utilization of Fixed Capital: An Element in Long-Term Growth

Changing Utilization of Fixed Capital: An Element in Long-Term Growth

Excerpt

The number of hours per week worked by the average person in the labor force has declined over the long run and has continued to decline even though the forty-hour week became the standard in this country after the end of World War II. Observing this behavior of the labor workweek, students of U.S. economic growth have raised questions about the behavior of average weekly hours worked by fixed capital. In 1981 the American Enterprise Institute published a study of mine that showed that the number of hours per week worked by manufacturing plants, rather than falling, increased by some 25 per- cent from 1929 to 1976, as a result of an increase in late-shift work. The first study presented figures for only two years for manufacturing. This study fills in the statistical void between 1929 and 1976 and extends the investigation to sectors outside manufacturing. Although the data for some industries leave much to be desired, the overall results have a large solid core. In any case, the study should be viewed as a beginning in areas either unexplored or little explored in the United States.

These statistics have significance for the way capital is used in this country, for productivity and its growth, and for the growth of output. The utilization of capital has been a topic of interest to economists for some time; indeed, the present study can be viewed as an outgrowth of a study of utilization I did more than twenty years ago. Coming at a time that saw the appearance of major works on the nation's long- term economic growth by Kendrick, Denison, and others, my early investigation gave rise to what I have called the "capital utilization controversy" from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. Major new books on shift work have appeared in recent years. At the meetings of the American Economic Association in September 1980, a session was devoted to the economics of slack capacity, the subject of a recent book by Gordon Winston.

Although interest in capital utilization has led to active discussion among economists, research on the subject of changing capital utilization in this country at least has been relatively meager. The earlier capital utilization controversy was tabled in effect for lack of data. The . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.