The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Returns to Scale Measurement

  • Susanto Basu
Reference work entry


If output grows faster than inputs, holding technology constant, the production function exhibits increasing returns to scale. Increasing returns in the aggregate production function may be due to overhead (fixed) costs, diminishing marginal cost, positive spillovers from aggregate activity, the entry of new varieties of inputs or changes in the distribution of inputs across heterogeneous firms. Each channel has significant implications for models of growth, trade and business cycles. Returns to scale are hard to estimate and even difficult to define, since the definition may depend on the degree of aggregation and the time horizon under study.


Capital utilization Cobb–Douglas function Cost functions Imperfect competition Markups Measurement error Production functions Productivity growth Research and development Returns to scale Returns to scale measurement Scale economies Shadow pricing Spillovers Sunspot equilibrium Technology Transmission problem 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanto Basu
    • 1
  1. 1.