If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Changes in the aggregate production function

The factors that contribute to aggregate production include the labor force, capital, and technology. When these factors increase, they can lead to an increase in production. Additionally, productivity, or output per person, is another important metric to consider.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user kevin.scott.buehler
    If the unemployment rate increases, is that a shift down in the aggregate production function or a move down and to the left along the production function?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • starky tree style avatar for user melanie
      Assuming all else is constant (capital and technology are not changing), then it is a movement along the aggregate production function to the left. A production function shows the value of output given inputs, so an increase in unemployment is associated with a movement along the curve (less labor being used to make less output).

      A shift of the entire curve would mean that given the same amount of labor (i.e., no change in employment) you produce less.
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

- [Instructor] So we are posed with the question, All else equal, which of the following would likely cause aggregate production to go up? Pause this video, and see which of these you think would do that. All right, now let's work through this together. This first one says, More people enter the labor force while the unemployment rate stays constant. Well, labor is an important factor of production. And if more people enter the labor force, and the unemployment rate stays the same, that means that the absolute number of people who are working goes up. And if everything else stays constant, the level of technology, the capital, the productivity per person, well, then you would expect to be able to produce more. So aggregate production should go up in this scenario. So I'll put a check right over there. The second one, Velocity of money goes up. This one is tempting, because you might associate a high velocity of money, there's a lot of transactions going on, you might associate that with a very positive economy, but remember, we're saying all else equal. There might be a scenario where, people are transacting more, there's more, the money is circulating faster, but the total amount of output hasn't changed at all. There's the same number of people producing the same amount of goods, using the same technology and the same capital. And so this does not have a direct linkage to the output going up, all else equal. So I'll rule this out. Inflation goes up. Well this, again, is tempting, because many times, when we are producing at a high rate, when the economy is strong, that's associated with higher inflation. But there's many cases in history where you might even have hyper-inflation when the economy is actually even shrinking. And remember, we're saying all else equal. So there's a situation where the price level, and the rate of the price level going up, is going up, but we're producing the same amount of goods and services. And so I will rule this out. A new method of producing more goods with the same resources is developed. Well just imagine a very simple scenario. If the whole economy consists of me, and I produce pencils, and let's say I can produce 10 pencils a day, but I just have a new method of producing 20 pencils a day, with the same resources, with just me, and the same access to wood, and the same tools, well that's gonna dramatically increase my aggregate production. So one way to think about it is this is our, our level of technology has gone up, which is an important factor of production. So I like that one. Ten new farms are constructed. Well, if the farms are constructed, and I will assume that they are used, well we're going to have more output. They're gonna grow more things. Our level of capital has gone up. Once again, another important factor of production. So I like that. Imports go up. Well imports are us taking advantage, or using someone else's output. It doesn't say what it's going to do to our output. So I will rule that out. And so this is quite intuitive. We've talked about factors of production, like labor, and capital, and technology. And economists often tie this together, taking these factors of production, and showing how they lead to our aggregate output by using something known as the Aggregate Production Function. Aggregate, Aggregate Production, Function. And it's a fancy set of words. And what I'm about to write seems like fancy math, but as we'll hopefully see, it's reasonably intuitive. The Aggregate Production Function is that our output is equal to A, which, you could use a measure of our technology. It's often known as Total Factor Productivity, another fancy word, times a function of, that's why it's fancy, it's using the function notation, of our capital, and I know capital does not start with K in the English language, but K for capital, and our labor. And this is all very abstract. If we wanted to make it a little bit more tangible, especially 'cause we just have function notation in here, we could say something like, our aggregate output, our aggregate production, is equal to our Total Factor Productivity, and then I'll make up a version of this. Let's say, times the square root of our capital, times the square root of our labor. But in general, and as you see in this example, you're going to see Aggregate Production Functions that look something like this. The radicals, or the square roots on capital and labor might be a little bit different, but they tell the same story, that if you increase your level of technology, you're going to increase your aggregate output. If you increase your capital, you're going to increase your aggregate output. And if you increase your labor, you're going to increase your aggregate output. The reason why you might see square roots, or fractional exponents on capital or labor is this idea of diminishing marginal returns. That first farm might really add a lot to your output, but maybe that millionth farm might still add to your output, but maybe at a less level, at a lower level. Same thing, that first, those first 10 people might add a lot of output to your labor, but after you already have 100 million people, the next 10 will still add to your output, but maybe less. At least that's what these mathematical models are saying. So big picture, it's pretty intuitive that if you hold everything else equal, and if you increase the factors of production, well then, that would likely cause your aggregate production to go up. But economists like to describe things mathematically, and that's what's going on in something like an Aggregate Production Function. Now last but not least, a related idea to an Aggregate Production Function is this idea of productivity. Pro-duc-tivity. We already viewed A as Total Factor Productivity, but it's really a measure of the technology in an economy. Typically, when people talk just about regular productivity, they're talking about output per capita, output per person. So really, what they're doing is, they're thinking about aggregate production, so Y, and then they're dividing it by labor. So then they would divide it by labor. So this would be output per person. And so you could imagine, if technology improves, holding labor constant, well then your output per person is going to improve. If your capital goes up, which would improve your output, holding labor constant, then once again, your productivity would improve. Per person, you're able to produce more in your economy.