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Establishment Size Dynamics in the Aggregate Economy

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

This paper presents a theory of establishment size dynamics based on the accumulation of industry-specific human capital that simultaneously rationalizes the economy- wide facts on establishment growth rates, exit rates, and size distributions. The theory predicts that establishment growth and net exit rates should decline faster with size, and that the establishment size distribution should have thinner tails, in sectors that use specific human capital less intensively. We establish that there is substantial cross-sector heterogeneity in US establishment size dynamics and distributions, which is well explained by relative factor intensities. (JEL L11 , L16, L25).

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.97.5.1639
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/dec07/20041226_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 97 (2007)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1639-1666

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:5:p:1639-1666
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.5.1639
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  1. Evans, David S, 1987. "Tests of Alternative Theories of Firm Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 657-74, August.
  2. Xu Yi & Nezih Guner & Gustavo Ventura, 2005. "Macroeconomic Implications of Size Dependent Policies," 2005 Meeting Papers 530, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Gian Luca Clementi & Hugo Hopenhagn, 2004. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," Working Papers 04-25, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  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.
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  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.
  9. Iourii Manovskii & Gueorgui Kambourov, 2004. "Occupational Specificity of Human Capital," 2004 Meeting Papers 197, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Charles I. Jones, 2005. "The Shape of Production Functions and the Direction of Technical Change," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 517-549.
  11. Gorecki, Paul K, 1976. "The Determinants of Entry by Domestic and Foreign Enterprises in Canadian Manufacturing Industries: Some Comments and Empirical Results," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(4), pages 485-88, November.
  12. Gian Luca Clementi & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2006. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 229-265.
  13. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2007. "Policy Distortions and Aggregate Productivity with Heterogeneous Plants," Working Papers tecipa-283, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  14. Audretsch, D.B. & Klomp, L. & Thurik, A.R., 2002. "Gibrat's Law: are the services different?," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2002-04-STR, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  15. James Tybout, 1998. "Manufacturing Firms In Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, And Why?," Development and Comp Systems 9805004, EconWPA.
  16. Davis, Steven J. & Haltiwanger, John, 1999. "Gross job flows," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 41, pages 2711-2805 Elsevier.
  17. 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.
  18. Sleuwaegen, Leo & Goedhuys, Micheline, 2002. "Growth of firms in developing countries, evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 117-135, June.
  19. Geroski, P. A., 1995. "What do we know about entry?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 421-440, December.
  20. Luís M B Cabral & José Mata, 2003. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1075-1090, September.
  21. Hause, John C & Du Rietz, Gunnar, 1984. "Entry, Industry Growth, and the Microdynamics of Industry Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(4), pages 733-57, August.
  22. Dunne, T. & Roberts, M.J. & Samuelson L., 1988. "Plant Turnover And Gross Employment Flows In The U.S. Manufacturing Sector," Papers 9-87-7, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  23. Rui Albuquerque & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2004. "Optimal Lending Contracts and Firm Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 285-315.
  24. Hall, Bronwyn H, 1987. "The Relationship between Firm Size and Firm Growth in the U.S. Manufacturing Sector," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 583-606, June.
  25. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  26. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  27. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
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