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When Industries Become More Productive, Do Firms?

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  • James Levinsohn
  • Amil Petrin

Abstract

This paper investigates two explanations for why industries might become more productive over time. The first explanation, termed the real productivity case,' is one in which firms become more productive and this leads to more productive industries. The second explanation, termed the rationalization case,' is one in which firm productivity is constant, but productive firms expand while less productive firms either shrink or exit. Each case has very different implications for factor markets, long term growth prospects, and public policy regarding productivity. Further, one can only distinguish between these two cases with plant- or firm-level data. We investigate the empirical relevance of the two cases using the Chilean manufacturing census. We find that the rationalization case explains much of the measured increase in industry productivity. When industry productivity fails, the rationalization case appears much less important. We also contribute to the applied econometric literature on productivity estimation as we show that the value-added production function is especially well-suited to a simple extension of recent methods developed by Oiley and Pakes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6893.

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Date of creation: Jan 1999
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6893

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References

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  1. Aw, Bee Yan & Chen, Xiaomin & Roberts, Mark J., 2001. "Firm-level evidence on productivity differentials and turnover in Taiwanese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 51-86, October.
  2. Pavcnik, Nina, 2002. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvement: Evidence from Chilean Plants," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 245-76, January.
  3. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  4. Pakes, Ariel & Olley, Steven, 1995. "A limit theorem for a smooth class of semiparametric estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 295-332, January.
  5. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
  6. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1996. "Returns to scale in U.S. production: estimates and implications," International Finance Discussion Papers 546, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Harrison, Ann E., 1994. "Productivity, imperfect competition and trade reform : Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 53-73, February.
  8. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1990. "Gross Job Creation and Destruction: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Implications," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 123-186 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hopenhayn, Hugo & Rogerson, Richard, 1993. "Job Turnover and Policy Evaluation: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 915-38, October.
  10. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-54, July.
  11. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
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Cited by:
  1. de Backer, Koen & Sleuwaegen, Leo, 2003. "Foreign ownership and productivity dynamics," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 177-183, May.
  2. Kee, Hiau Looi & Hoekman, Bernard, 2007. "Imports, entry and competition law as market disciplines," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 831-858, May.
  3. Alain Gabler & Omar Licandro, 2007. "Endogenous Growth through Selection and Imitation," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/26, European University Institute.
  4. Kraay, Aart & Raddatz, Claudio, 2005. "Poverty traps, aid, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3631, The World Bank.
  5. Jim Levinsohn & Wendy Petropoulos, 2001. "Creative Destruction or Just Plain Destruction?: The U.S. Textile and Apparel Industries since 1972," NBER Working Papers 8348, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Halkos, George Emmanuel & Tzeremes, Nickolaos G., 2007. "Productivity efficiency and firm size: An empirical analysis of foreign owned companies," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 713-731, December.

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