Panel Data, Factor Models, and the Solow Residual

  • Alois Kneip
  • Robin C. Sickles


In this paper we discuss the Solow residual (Solow, Rev. Econ. Stat. 39:312–320, 1957) and how it has been interpreted and measured in the neoclassical production literature and in the complementary literature on productive efficiency. We point out why panel data are needed to measure productive efficiency and innovation and thus link the two strands of literatures. We provide a discussion on the various estimators used in the two literatures, focusing on one class of estimators in particular, the factor model. We evaluate in finite samples the performance of a particular factor model, the model of Kneip, Sickles, and Song (A New Panel Data Treatment for Heterogeneity in Time Trends, Econometric Theory, 2011), in identifying productive efficiencies. We also point out that the measurement of the two main sources of productivity growth, technical change and technical efficiency change, may be not be feasible in many empirical settings and that alternative survey based approaches offer advantages that have yet to be exploited in the productivity accounting literature.


Technical Efficiency Productivity Growth Total Factor Productivity Technical Change Stochastic Frontier 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper is based in part on keynote lectures given by Sickles at the Preconference Workshop of the 2008 Asia-Pacific Productivity Conference, July 17–19, Department of Economics, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, 2008; Anadolu University International Conference in Economics: Developments in Economic Theory, Modeling and Policy, Eskişehir, Turkey, June 17–19, 2009; and the 15th Conference on Panel Data, Bonn, July 3–5, 2009. The authors would like to thank Paul Wilson, Co-Editor of this festschrift honoring Leopold Simar, for his insightful comments and editorial oversight on our paper. The usual caveat applies.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Department of Economics - MS 22Rice UniversityHoustonUSA

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