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Do product market regulations in upstream sectors curb productivity growth? Panel data evidence for OECD countries

  • Bourlès, R.
  • Cette, G.
  • Lopez, J.
  • Mairesse, J.
  • Nicoletti, G.

The paper focuses on the influence of upstream competition for productivity outcomes in downstream sectors. This relation is illustrated with a neo-Schumpeterian theoretical model of innovation (Aghion et al., 1997) with market imperfections in the production of intermediate goods. In this context, upstream market imperfections create barriers to competition in downstream markets and upstream producers use their market power to share innovation rents sought by downstream firms. Thus, lack of competition in upstream markets curbs incentives to improve productivity downstream, negatively affecting productivity outcomes. We test this prediction by estimating an error correction model that differentiates the potential downstream effects of lack of upstream competition in situations close and far from the global technological frontier. We measure competition upstream with regulatory burden indicators derived from OECD data on sectoral product market regulation and the industry-level efficiency improvement and the distance to frontier variables by means of a multifactor productivity (MFP) index. Panel regressions are run for 15 OECD countries and 20 sectors over the 1985-2007 period with country, sector and year fixed effects. We find clear evidence that anticompetitive regulations in upstream sectors have curbed MFP growth downstream over the past 15 years. These effects tend to be strongest for observations (i.e. country/sector/period triads) that are close to the global technological frontier. Our results suggest that, measured at the average distance to frontier and average level of anticompetitive regulations, the marginal effect of increasing competition by easing such regulations is to increase MFP growth by between 1 and 1.5 per cent per year in the OECD countries covered by our sample. Our results are robust to changes in the way MFP and the regulatory burden indicators are constructed, as well as to variations in the sample of countries and/or sectors.

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Paper provided by Banque de France in its series Working papers with number 283.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:283
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