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Large Employers Are More Cyclically Sensitive

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  • Moscarini, Giuseppe
  • Postel-Vinay, Fabien

Abstract

We provide new evidence that large firms or establishments are more sensitive than small ones to business cycle conditions. Larger employers shed proportionally more jobs in recessions and create more of their new jobs late in expansions, both in gross and net terms. The differential growth rate of employment between large and small firms varies by about 5% over the business cycle. Omitting cyclical indicators may lead to conclude that, on average, these cyclical effects wash out and size does not predict subsequent growth (Gibrat's law). We employ a variety of measures of relative employment growth, employer size and classification by size. We revisit two statistical fallacies, the Regression and Reclassification biases, that can affect our results, and we show empirically that they are quantitatively modest given our focus on relative cyclical behavior. We exploit a variety of (mostly novel) U.S. datasets, both repeated cross-sections and job flows with employer longitudinal information, starting in the mid 1970's and now spanning four business cycles. The pattern that we uncover is robust to different treatments of entry and exit of firms and establishments, and occurs within, not across broad industries, regions and states. Evidence on worker flows suggests that the pattern is driven at least in part by excess layoffs by large employers in and just after recessions, and by excess poaching by large employers late in expansions. We find the same pattern in similar datasets in four other countries, including full longitudinal censuses of employers from Denmark and Brazil. Finally, we sketch a simple firm-ladder model of turnover that can shed light on these facts, and that we analyze in detail in companion papers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7173.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7173

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Keywords: Business Cycle; Firm Size; Gibrat's Law; Job flows;

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References

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  1. Rasmus Lentz & Dale T. Mortensen, 2005. "An Empirical Model of Growth Through Product Innovation," NBER Working Papers 11546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Arthur M. Okun, 1973. "Upward Mobility in a High-Pressure Economy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(1), pages 207-262.
  3. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2008. "The Timing of Labor Market Expansions: New Facts and a New Hypothesis," 2008 Meeting Papers 326, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Sharpe, Steven A, 1994. "Financial Market Imperfections, Firm Leverage, and the Cyclicality of Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1060-74, September.
  5. Orietta Marsili, 2006. "Stability and Turbulence in the Size Distribution of Firms: Evidence from Dutch Manufacturing," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 255-272.
  6. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2009. "Non-Stationary Search Equilibrium," 2009 Meeting Papers 31, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Philipp Kircher & Leo Kaas, 2010. "Efficient Firm Dynamics in a Frictional Labor Market," 2010 Meeting Papers 89, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Jörn Kleinert & Julien Martin & Farid Toubal, 2012. "The Few Leading the Many: Foreign Affiliates and Business Cycle Comovement," Working Papers 2012-18, CEPII research center.
  3. POSCHKE, Markus, 2011. "The Firm Size Distribution across Countries and Skill-Biased Change in Entrepreneurial Technology," Cahiers de recherche 08-2011, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  4. T√∫lio Cravo, 2011. "Are Small Firms more cyclically Sensitive than Large Ones? National, Regional and Sectoral Evidence from Brazil," ERSA conference papers ersa10p507, European Regional Science Association.
  5. Giuseppe Moscarini & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2010. "Stochastic Search Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000001, David K. Levine.
  6. Shawn Kantor & Alexander Whalley, 2009. "Do Universities Generate Agglomeration Spillovers? Evidence from Endowment Value Shocks," NBER Working Papers 15299, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Horta, I.M. & Camanho, A.S. & Moreira da Costa, J., 2012. "Performance assessment of construction companies: A study of factors promoting financial soundness and innovation in the industry," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 84-93.
  8. Edouard Schaal, 2011. "Uncertainty, Productivity and Unemployment in the Great Depression," 2011 Meeting Papers 1450, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Cravo, Túlio A., 2011. "Are small employers more cyclically sensitive? Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 754-769.
  10. Razvan Vlaicu & Alexander Whalley, 2011. "Do housing bubbles generate fiscal bubbles?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 89-108, October.
  11. Julieta Caunedo, 2013. "Industry Dynamics, Investment and Business Cycles," 2013 Meeting Papers 1078, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. Burcu Duygan-Bump & Alexey Levkov & Judit Montoriol-Garriga, 2010. "Financing constraints and unemployment: evidence from the Great Recession," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU10-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  13. Coles, Melvyn G & Kelishomi, Ali Moghaddasi, 2011. "New Business Start-ups and the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 8588, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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