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Power law distribution of the frequency of demises of US firms

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  • Cook, William
  • Ormerod, Paul

Abstract

Both theoretical and applied economics have a great deal to say about many aspects of the firm, but the literature on the extinctions, or demises, of firms is very sparse. We use a publicly available data base covering some 6 million firms in the US and show that the underlying statistical distribution which characterises the frequency of firm demises—the disappearances of firms as autonomous entities—is closely approximated by a power law. The exponent of the power law is, intriguingly, close to that reported in the literature on the extinction of biological species.

Suggested Citation

  • Cook, William & Ormerod, Paul, 2003. "Power law distribution of the frequency of demises of US firms," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 324(1), pages 207-212.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:324:y:2003:i:1:p:207-212
    DOI: 10.1016/S0378-4371(02)01955-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. S. V. Buldyrev & L. A. N. Amaral & S. Havlin & H. Leschhorn & P. Maass & M. A. Salinger & H. E. Stanley & M. H. R. Stanley, 1997. "Scaling behavior in economics: II. Modeling of company growth," Papers cond-mat/9702085, arXiv.org.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wright, Ian, 2005. "The social architecture of capitalism," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 346(3), pages 589-620.
    2. Coad, Alex, 2010. "Investigating the exponential age distribution of firms," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 4, pages 1-30.
    3. Wright, Ian, 2009. "Implicit Microfoundations for Macroeconomics," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-27.
    4. Guilmi, Corrado Di & Gallegati, Mauro & Ormerod, Paul, 2004. "Scaling invariant distributions of firms’ exit in OECD countries," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 334(1), pages 267-273.
    5. Kočišová, J. & Horváth, D. & Brutovský, B., 2009. "The efficiency of individual optimization in the conditions of competitive growth," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 388(17), pages 3585-3592.
    6. Camila C.S. Caiado & Paul Ormerod, 2012. "The structure of economic connections between industries: non-scaling behaviour," International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 2(1/2), pages 39-51.
    7. Lavička, H. & Lin, L. & Novotný, J., 2010. "Employment, Production and Consumption model: Patterns of phase transitions," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 389(8), pages 1708-1720.
    8. Bridget Rosewell & Paul Ormerod, 2004. "How much can firms know?," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 44, Society for Computational Economics.

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