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Defending Gibrat’s Law as a long-run regularity

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  • Francesca Lotti

    ()

  • Enrico Santarelli

    ()

  • Marco Vivarelli

    ()

Abstract

According to Gibrat’s Law of Proportionate Effect, the growth rate of a given firm is independent of its size at the beginning of the period examined. While earlier studies tended to confirm the Law, more recent research generally rejects it. This paper reconciles these two streams of literature, taking into account the role of market selection and learning in reshaping a given population of firms through time. Consistently with previous studies, we found that Gibrat’s Law has to be rejected ex ante, since smaller firms tend to grow faster than their larger counterparts. However, a significant convergence towards Gibrat-like behavior can be detected ex post. This finding is an indication that market selection “cleans” the original population of firms, so that the resulting industrial “core” does not depart from a Gibrat-like pattern of growth. From a theoretical point of view, this result is consistent with those models based on passive and active learning, and can be seen as a defense of the validity of the Law in the long-run.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Small Business Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 31-44

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Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:32:y:2009:i:1:p:31-44

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100338

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Keywords: Gibrat’s Law; Firm size; Firm age; Firm survival; Firm growth; L11; L26;

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  1. Marco Vivarelli, 2004. "Are All the Potential Entrepreneurs So Good?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 41-49, 08.
  2. Francesca Lotti & Enrico Santarelli & Marco Vivarelli, 2001. "The relationship between size and growth: the case of Italian newborn firms," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(7), pages 451-454.
  3. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  4. Eric Bartelsman & Stefano Scarpetta & Fabiano Schivardi, 2005. "Comparative analysis of firm demographics and survival: evidence from micro-level sources in OECD countries," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(3), pages 365-391, June.
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  7. Stephen Hymer & Peter Pashigian, 1962. "Firm Size and Rate of Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 556.
  8. F. Lotti & E. Santarelli, 2001. "Industry Dynamics and the Distiribution of Firm Sizes: A Non-Parametric Apporoach," Working Papers 406, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  9. Anthony Endres & Christine Woods, 2006. "Modern Theories of Entrepreneurial Behavior: A Comparison and Appraisal," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 189-202, 03.
  10. Bronwyn H. Hall, 1986. "The Relationship Between Firm Size and Firm Growth in the U.S. Manufacturing Sector," NBER Working Papers 1965, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Foti, Alessandro & Vivarelli, Marco, 1994. " An Econometric Test of the Self-Employment Model: The Case of Italy," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 81-93, April.
  12. Cabral, Luis, 1995. "Sunk Costs, Firm Size and Firm Growth," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 161-72, June.
  13. Dunne, T. & Roberts, M.J. & Samuelson, L., 1988. "The Growth And Failure Of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," Papers 1-87-5, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  14. Hart, Peter E & Oulton, Nicholas, 1996. "Growth and Size of Firms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1242-52, September.
  15. Francesca Lotti & Enrico Santarelli, 2004. "Industry Dynamics and the Distribution of Firm Sizes: A Nonparametric Approach," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 443-466, January.
  16. Francesca Lotti & Enrico Santarelli & Marco Vivarelli, 2003. "Does Gibrat's Law hold among young, small firms?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 213-235, August.
  17. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
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  19. McCloughan, Patrick, 1995. "Simulation of Concentration Development from Modified Gibrat Growth-Entry-Exit Processes," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 405-33, December.
  20. Audretsch, David B. & Santarelli, Enrico & Vivarelli, Marco, 1999. "Start-up size and industrial dynamics: some evidence from Italian manufacturing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(7), pages 965-983, October.
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