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Selection and Firm Survival: Evidence from the Shipbuilding Industry, 1825-1914

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  • Peter Thompson

    (Florida International University)

Abstract

Several theories of firm performance can explain the well known observation that survival is positively related to age. However, a more mundane explanation-selection bias driven by variations in firm quality-may also underlie the phenomenon. This paper employs a 90 year plant-level panel data set on the U.S. iron and steel shipbuilding industry of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to discriminate between the explanations. The shipbuilding industry exhibits the usual joint dependence of survival on age and size, but this dependence is eliminated after controlling for heterogeneity by using preentry experience as a proxy for firm quality. The evidence points to a dominant role for selection bias in creating the age dependence of survival. At the same time, preentry experience is found to have a large and extremely persistent effect on survival, and this finding is inconsistent with standard explanations for the role of preentry experience on firm performance. © 2005 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 87 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 26-36

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:87:y:2005:i:1:p:26-36

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  7. Peter Thompson, 2008. "The Iron and Steel Shipbuilding Data Set, 1825-1914: Sources, Coverage, and Coding Decisions," Working Papers 0807, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  8. Evans, David S, 1987. "The Relationship between Firm Growth, Size, and Age: Estimates for 100 Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 567-81, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Buddelmeyer, Hielke & Jensen, Paul H. & Webster, Elizabeth, 2006. "Innovation and the Determinants of Firm Survival," IZA Discussion Papers 2386, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Taylor, Margaret & Taylor, Andrew, 2012. "The technology life cycle: Conceptualization and managerial implications," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(1), pages 541-553.
  3. Roy Thurik & Jolanda Hessels & Isabel Grilo & Peter van der Zwan, 2009. "Entrepreneurial exit and entrepreneurial engagement," Scales Research Reports H200910, EIM Business and Policy Research.
  4. Roberto Fontana & Lionel Nesta, 2007. "Product Innovation and Survival in a High-Tech Industry," KITeS Working Papers 208, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Dec 2007.
  5. Peter Thompson, 2008. "The Iron and Steel Shipbuilding Data Set, 1825-1914: Sources, Coverage, and Coding Decisions," Working Papers 0807, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  6. Alex Coad, 2009. "Investigating the exponential age distribution of firms," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2009-23, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  7. Margherita Balconi & Roberto Fontana, 2011. "Entry and innovation: an analysis of the fabless semiconductor business," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 87-106, July.
  8. repec:nbr:nberch:3045 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Huynh, Kim P. & Petrunia, Robert J. & Voia, Marcel, 2012. "Duration of new firms: The role of startup financial conditions, industry and aggregate factors," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 354-362.
  10. Hanas Cader & John Leatherman, 2011. "Small business survival and sample selection bias," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 155-165, September.
  11. Mano, Yukichi & Suzuki, Aya, 2013. "Industrial Development through Takeovers and Exits: the Case of the Cut Flower Exporters in Ethiopia," Discussion Papers 2013-05, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  12. Guido Buenstorf & Ulrich Witt, 2006. "How Problems of Organisational Growth in Firms Affect Industry Entry and Exit," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 97(5), pages 47-62.
  13. Luis F. Medrano E., 2012. "Patent Citations, University Inventor Patents, and Survival in the German Laser Source Industry (1960-2005)," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-009, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.

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