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The Capital-Energy Controversy: An Artifact of Cost Shares?

Any serious empirical study of factor substitutability has to allow the data to display complementarity as well as substitutability. The standard approach reflecting this idea is a translog specification-this is also the approach used by the majority of studies analyzing the substitutability of energy and capital. Yet, the substitutability between capital and energy and the source of discrepancies in the results still remain controversial. This paper offers a straightforward explanation for at least the divergent results provided by the translog studies: Using a translog approach reduces the issue of factor substitutability to a question of cost shares. Our review of translog studies demonstrates that this argument is empirically far more relevant than the distinction between time-series and panel studies being favored in the literature. More generally, we provide ample empirical evidence for our argument that the magnitudes of cross price elasticity estimates of two factors gleaned from static approaches like the translog functional form are mainly driven by the cost shares of these factors.

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Energy Specializations: Energy Modeling – Sectoral Energy Demand & Technology; Energy and the Economy – Energy as a Productive Input; Energy and the Economy –Economic Growth and Energy Demand; Energy and the Economy – Resource Endowments and Economic Performance; Energy and the Economy – Energy Shocks and Business Cycles

JEL Codes:
Q55 - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
O13 - Economic Development: Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products
Q34 - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts
F44 - International Business Cycles

Keywords: Capital-energy substitution, static translog studies, Germany, manufacturing industry

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol23-No3-3

Published in Volume23, Number 3 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.