Most empirical work in economic growth assumes either a Cobb–Douglas production function expressed in logs or a log-approximated constant elasticity of substitution specification. Estimates from each are likely biased due to logging the model and the latter can also suffer from approximation bias. We illustrate this with a successful replication of Masanjala and Papagerogiou (The Solow model with CES technology: nonlinearities and parameter heterogeneity, Journal of Applied Econometrics 2004; 19: 171–201) and then estimate both models in levels to avoid these biases. Our estimation in levels gives results in line with conventional wisdom. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.