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Human capital and the size distribution of firms

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  • Pedro Gomes

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

  • Zoe Kuehn

    (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid)

Abstract

Countries with a lower fraction of workers with secondary education have smaller firms. We set up a model of occupational choice where individuals have primary, secondary or tertiary education. A more educated work force raises firm size and productivity. More educated workers earn higher wages, and hence among educated individuals only the more able become entrepreneurs. We find that within the framework of our model, different educational attainments can explain one third of the difference in average firm size between the US and Mexico. While improved educational attainments hence imply an increase in firm size over time, a fall in the price of capital together with capital-skill complementarity acts in the opposite direction, something that can explain a relatively constant average firm size in the US since the late 1970's. Our policy experiments highlight how public employment and the skill bias in public hiring additionally affect firm size and productivity. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro Gomes & Zoe Kuehn, 2017. "Human capital and the size distribution of firms," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 164-179, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:14-102
    DOI: 10.1016/j.red.2017.03.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Jose Asturias & Sewon Hur & Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2023. "Firm Entry and Exit and Aggregate Growth," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 48-105, January.
    2. Andri Chassamboulli & Pedro Gomes, 2018. "Meritocracy, Public-Sector Pay and Human Capital Accumulation," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 08-2018, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    3. Prettner, Klaus & Strulik, Holger, 2018. "Trade and productivity: The family connection redux," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 276-291.
    4. Garibaldi, Pietro & Gomes, Pedro & Sopraseuth, Thepthida, 2021. "Public employment redux," Journal of Government and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(C).
    5. Naudé, Wim & Tregenna, Fiona, 2023. "Africa's Industrialization Prospects: A Fresh Look," IZA Discussion Papers 16043, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Nezih Guner & Andrii Parkhomenko & Gustavo Ventura, 2018. "Managers and Productivity Differences," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 29, pages 256-282, July.
    7. Andri Chassamboulli & Pedro Gomes, 2019. "Public-Sector Employment, Wages and Human Capital Accumulation," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 07-2019, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    8. Pedro Mazeda Gil & Gustavo Iglésias, 2020. "Endogenous Growth and Real Effects of Monetary Policy: R&D and Physical Capital Complementarities," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 52(5), pages 1147-1197, August.
    9. Geromichalos, Athanasios & Kospentaris, Ioannis, 2022. "The unintended consequences of meritocratic government hiring," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    10. Chassamboulli, Andri & Gomes, Pedro, 2023. "Public-sector employment, wages and education decisions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    11. Pokrovsky, D. & Shapoval, A., 2015. "Distribution of Entrepreneurial Skills and Migration: Employment Structure, Income Inequality, and Welfare," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 36-62.
    12. Guimarães, Luís & Mazeda Gil, Pedro, 2022. "Explaining the Labor Share: Automation Vs Labor Market Institutions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    13. Saras D. Sarasvathy, 2021. "The Middle Class of Business: Endurance as a Dependent Variable in Entrepreneurship," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 45(5), pages 1054-1082, September.
    14. Diogo Baerlocher, 2022. "Public employment and economic growth," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 73(1), pages 211-236, February.
    15. Pedro Mazeda Gil & Gustavo Iglésias,, 2018. "Endogenous Growth and Real Effects of Monetary Policy: R&D and Physical Capital Complementarities in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," CEF.UP Working Papers 1802, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    16. Fix, Blair, 2016. "Energy and Institution Size," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2016/04, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    17. Adamu Jibir & Musa Abdu & Abdullahi Buba, 2023. "Does Human Capital Influence Labor Productivity? Evidence from Nigerian Manufacturing and Service Firms," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 14(2), pages 805-830, June.
    18. Blair Fix, 2017. "Energy and institution size," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(2), pages 1-22, February.
    19. Chang, Ching-Fu & Wang, Ping & Liu, Jin-Tan, 2016. "Knowledge spillovers, human capital and productivity," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 47(PB), pages 214-232.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    firm size; educational attainment; entrepreneurship; college premium; high school premium; public employment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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