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Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?

  • Lucia Foster
  • John Haltiwanger
  • Chad Syverson

There is considerable evidence that producer-level churning contributes substantially to aggregate (industry) productivity growth, as more productive businesses displace less productive ones. However, this research has been limited by the fact that producer-level prices are typically unobserved; thus within-industry price differences are embodied in productivity measures. If prices reflect idiosyncratic demand or market power shifts, high “productivity” businesses may not be particularly efficient, and the literature’s findings might be better interpreted as evidence of entering businesses displacing less profitable, but not necessarily less productive, exiting businesses. In this paper, we investigate the nature of selection and productivity growth using data from industries where we observe producer-level quantities and prices separately. We show there are important differences between revenue and physical productivity. A key dissimilarity is that physical productivity is inversely correlated with plant-level prices while revenue productivity is positively correlated with prices. This implies that previous work linking (revenue-based) productivity to survival has confounded the separate and opposing effects of technical efficiency and demand on survival, understating the true impacts of both. We further show that young producers charge lower prices than incumbents, and as such the literature understates the productivity advantage of new producers and the contribution of entry to aggregate productivity growth.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2005/CES-WP-05-11.pdf
File Function: First version, 2005
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 05-11.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:05-11
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  1. Ericson, Richard & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82, January.
  2. C.J. Krizan & John Haltiwanger & Lucia Foster, 2002. "The Link Between Aggregate and Micro Productivity Growth: Evidence from Retail Trade," Working Papers 02-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Thomas A Abbott III, 1992. "Price Dispersion In U.S. Manufacturing: Implications For The Aggregation Of Products And Firms," Working Papers 92-3, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. Tor Jakob Klette & Zvi Griliches, 1992. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators When Output Prices Are Unobserved and Engogenous," NBER Working Papers 4026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2007. "ROBUSTNESS OF PRODUCTIVITY ESTIMATES -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 529-569, 09.
  6. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1181-1222, December.
  7. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  8. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Marcela Eslava & John Haltiwanger & Adriana Kugler & Maurice Kugler, 2004. "The effects of structural reforms on productivity and profitability enhancing reallocation: Evidence from Colombia," Economics Working Papers 763, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  10. Timothy Dunne & Mark J. Roberts & Larry Samuelson, 1988. "Patterns of Firm Entry and Exit in U.S. Manufacturing Industries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(4), pages 495-515, Winter.
  11. John Haltiwanger & C J Krizan & Lucia Foster, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons From Microeconomic Evidence," Working Papers 98-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  12. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  13. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
  14. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341, 04.
  15. Haijime Katayama & Shihua Lu & James Tybout, 2003. "Why Plant-Level Productivity Studies are Often Misleading, and an Alternative Approach to Interference," NBER Working Papers 9617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Guido Fioretti, 2005. "The Production Function," Papers physics/0511191, arXiv.org.
  17. Aw, Bee Yan & Chen, Xiaomin & Roberts, Mark J., 2001. "Firm-level evidence on productivity differentials and turnover in Taiwanese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 51-86, October.
  18. Jacques Mairesse & Jordi Jaumandreu, 2005. "Panel-data Estimates of the Production Function and the Revenue Function: What Difference Does It Make?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(4), pages 651-672, December.
  19. John Shea, 1997. "Instrument Relevance in Multivariate Linear Models: A Simple Measure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 348-352, May.
  20. George S Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics Of Productivity In The Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Working Papers 92-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  21. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  22. Chad Syverson, 2006. "Prices, Spatial Competition, and Heterogenous Producers: An Empirical Test," NBER Working Papers 12231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Roberts, Mark J. & Supina, Dylan, 1996. "Output price, markups, and producer size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 909-921, April.
  24. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Timothy Dunne & Mark J Roberts, 1992. "Costs, Demand, and Imperfect Competition as Determinants of Plant_level Output Prices," Working Papers 92-5, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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