Nobody's business but my own: Self-employment and small enterprise in economic development
In most poor countries, small firms and self-employment are the dominant forms of business enterprise--even in the manufacturing sector. For rich countries, in contrast, self-employed people account for very small shares of manufacturing employment and output. This paper builds on Lucas [1978. On the size distribution of business firms. Bell Journal of Economics 9(2), 508-523] to ask whether structural changes of this kind are driven by productivity differences. A model, calibrated to Japanese time-series data, is shown to mimic key features of cross-country and time-series data. The results support the idea that changes in aggregate productivity account for much of the cross-country variation in establishment size and self-employment rates.
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