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Measuring Aggregate Productivity Growth Using Plant-Level Data

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  • Amil Petrin

    (University of Chicago)

  • James Levinsohn

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

We define productivity growth as the change in welfare that arises from additional output holding primary inputs constant. Using this traditional growth-accounting definition, we show that gains may arise because of plant-level technology shocks, and, in imperfectly competitive settings, from the reallocation of inputs across plants with differing markups and/or shadow values of primary inputs. With plant-level data, the alternative and most popular definition of productivity growth looks at the difference in the first moments of the productivity distribution. We show that this definition adds an additional term to the growth-accounting measure, which has been called “reallocation.” We show there is a very weak relationship between the two indexes in almost every 3-digit manufacturing industry in both Chile from 1987-1996 and Colombia from 1981-1991 - 49 in total - primarily because this “reallocation” term is large and volatile. We explore the theoretical reasons for this sharp divergence, in the process uncovering a number of previously unnoticed and unattractive features of the first-moment definition. For example, it is not tethered to any theoretical model, it is sensitive to measured units, and it can report positive productivity growth when welfare has fallen.

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File URL: http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/workingpapers/Papers551-575/r552.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan in its series Working Papers with number 552.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mie:wpaper:552

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Postal: ANN ARBOR MICHIGAN 48109
Web page: http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/
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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth through Creative Destruction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 323-51, March.
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  5. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2008. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," NBER Working Papers 14610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Amil Petrin, 2002. "Quantifying the Benefits of New Products: The Case of the Minivan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 705-729, August.
  9. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1997. "Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology," International Finance Discussion Papers 593, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Bert M. Balk, 2005. "Divisia price and quantity indices: 80 years after," Statistica Neerlandica, Netherlands Society for Statistics and Operations Research, vol. 59(2), pages 119-158.
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  12. Star, Spencer & Hall, Robert E, 1976. "An Approximate Divisia Index of Total Factor Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 257-63, March.
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  15. Hulten, Charles R, 1978. "Growth Accounting with Intermediate Inputs," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 511-18, October.
  16. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341, 04.
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Cited by:
  1. Chad Syverson, 2010. "What Determines Productivity?," NBER Working Papers 15712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shuyun Li, 2011. "Costly external finance, reallocation, and aggregate productivity," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 181-195, June.
  3. S. Federico & G.A. Minerva, 2006. "Outward FDI and Local Employment Growth in Italy," Working Papers 572, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  4. Sophie Osotimehin, 2013. "Aggregate productivity and the allocation of resources over the business cycle," Virginia Economics Online Papers 404, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.

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