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A theory of growth and volatility at the aggregate and firm level

  • Comin, Diego
  • Mulani, Sunil

We present an endogenous growth model that explains the evolution of the first and second moments of productivity growth at the aggregate and firm level during the post-war period. Growth is driven by the development of both (i) idiosyncratic R&D innovations and (ii) general innovations that can be freely adopted by many firms. Firm-level volatility is affected primarily by the Schumpeterian dynamics associated with the development of R&D innovations. The variance of aggregate productivity growth is driven by the arrival rate of general innovations. Ceteris paribus, the share of resources spent on development of general innovations increases with the stability of the market share of the industry leader. As market shares become less persistent, the model predicts an endogenous shift in the allocation of resources from the development of general innovations to the development of R&D innovations. This results in an increase in R&D, an increase in firm-level volatility, and a decline in aggregate volatility. The effect on productivity growth is ambiguous. On the empirical side, this paper presents new cross-country evidence that R&D subsidies are not significantly associated with higher growth but are associated with lower aggregate volatility. It also documents an upward trend in the instability of market shares, a positive association between firm volatility and R&D spending, and a negative association across sectors between R&D and how correlated the sector is with the rest of the economy.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 56 (2009)
Issue (Month): 8 (November)
Pages: 1023-1042

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:56:y:2009:i:8:p:1023-1042
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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