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Measuring productivity dispersion: a parametric approach using the L\'{e}vy alpha-stable distribution

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  • Jangho Yang
  • Torsten Heinrich
  • Julian Winkler
  • Franc{c}ois Lafond
  • Pantelis Koutroumpis
  • J. Doyne Farmer

Abstract

It is well-known that value added per worker is extremely heterogeneous among firms, but relatively little has been done to characterize this heterogeneity more precisely. Here we show that the distribution of value-added per worker exhibits heavy tails, a very large support, and consistently features a proportion of negative values, which prevents log transformation. We propose to model the distribution of value added per worker using the four parameter L\'evy stable distribution, a natural candidate deriving from the Generalised Central Limit Theorem, and we show that it is a better fit than key alternatives. Fitting a distribution allows us to capture dispersion through the tail exponent and scale parameters separately. We show that these parametric measures of dispersion are at least as useful as interquantile ratios, through case studies on the evolution of dispersion in recent years and the correlation between dispersion and intangible capital intensity.

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  • Jangho Yang & Torsten Heinrich & Julian Winkler & Franc{c}ois Lafond & Pantelis Koutroumpis & J. Doyne Farmer, 2019. "Measuring productivity dispersion: a parametric approach using the L\'{e}vy alpha-stable distribution," Papers 1910.05219, arXiv.org, revised Apr 2022.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1910.05219
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    Cited by:

    1. Goldin, Ian & Koutroumpis, Pantelis & Lafond, François & Winkler, Julian, 2020. "Why is productivity slowing down?," MPRA Paper 99172, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Heinrich, Torsten & Yang, Jangho & Dai, Shuanping, 2020. "Levels of structural change: An analysis of China's development push 1998-2014," MPRA Paper 100106, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Torsten Heinrich & Jangho Yang & Shuanping Dai, 2020. "Growth, development, and structural change at the firm-level: The example of the PR China," Papers 2012.14503, arXiv.org.
    4. Lafond, François & Goldin, Ian & Koutroumpis, Pantelis & Winkler, Julian, 2022. "Why is productivity slowing down?," INET Oxford Working Papers 2022-08, Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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