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Firm Size Dynamics in the Aggregate Economy

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  • Esteban Rossi-Hansberg
  • Mark L.J. Wright

Abstract

Why do firm growth and exit rates decline with size? What determines the size distribution of firms? This paper presents a theory of firm dynamics that simultaneously rationalizes the basic facts on firm growth, exit, and size distributions. The theory emphasizes the accumulation of industry specific human capital in response to industry specific productivity shocks. The theory implies that firm growth and exit rates should decline faster with size, and the size distribution should have thinner tails, in sectors that use human capital less intensively, or correspondingly, physical capital more intensively. In line with the theory, we document substantial sectoral heterogeneity in US firm dynamics and firm size distributions, which is well explained by variation in physical capital intensities.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11261.

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Date of creation: Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11261

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  1. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2003. "Urban structure and growth," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 141, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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Cited by:
  1. Glenn MacDonald & Emin Dinlersoz, 2005. "The Industry Life-Cycle of the Size Distribution of Firms," Working Papers 05-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Sherrill Shaffer & Iftekhar Hasan & Mingming Zhou, 2008. "New Small Firms And Dimensions Of Economic Performance," CAMA Working Papers 2008-24, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  3. Lentz, Rasmus & Mortensen, Dale T., 2005. "An Empirical Model of Growth Through Product Innovation," IZA Discussion Papers 1685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Urban Structure and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 597-624.
  5. Piercarlo Zanchettin & Vincenzo Denicolò, 2009. "Leadership Cycles," Discussion Papers in Economics 09/25, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  6. Barnes, Sebastian & Price, Simon & Sebastia Barriel, Maria, 2008. "The elasticity of substitution: evidence from a UK firm-level data set," Bank of England working papers 348, Bank of England.
  7. Erzo G.J. Luttmer, 2004. "The size distribution of firms in an economy with fixed and entry costs," Working Papers 633, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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