Estimating substitution elasticities with the Fourier cost function. Some Monte Carlo results

James A. Chalfant, A. Ronald Gallant

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The Fourier flexible form possesses desirable asymptotic properties that are not shared by other flexible forms such as the translog, generalized Leontief, and generalized Box-Cox. One of them is that an elasticity of substitution can be estimated with negligible bias in sufficiently large samples regardless of what the true form actually is, save that it be smooth enough. This article reports the results of an experiment designed to determine whether or not this property obtains in samples of the sizes customarily encountered in practice. A three-input, homothetic version of the generalized Box-Cox cost function was used to generate technologies that were oriented in a two-dimensional design space according to a central composite rotatable design; the two factors of the design were the Box-Cox parameter and a measure of the dispersion of the substitution matrix. The Fourier cost function was used to estimate the substitution elasticities at each design point, and the bias at each point was estimated using the Monte Carlo method. A response surface over the entire design space was fitted to these estimates. An examination of the surface reveals that the bias is small over the entire design space. Roughly speaking, the estimates of elasticities of substitution are unbiased to three significant digits using the Fourier flexible form no matter what the true technology. Our conclusion is that the small bias property of the Fourier form does obtain in samples of reasonable size; this claim must be tampered by the usual caveats associated with inductive inference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-222
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Econometrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


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