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The Dynamics of Plant-Level Productivity in U.S. Manufacturing

  • Arpad Abraham
  • Kirk White

Using a unique database that covers the entire U.S. manufacturing sector from 1976 until 1999, we estimate plant-level total factor productivity for a large number of plants. We characterize time series properties of plant-level idiosyncratic shocks to productivity, taking into account aggregate manufacturing-sector shocks and industry-level shocks. Plant-level heterogeneity and shocks are a key determinant of the cross-sectional variations in output. We compare the persistence and volatility of the idiosyncratic plant-level shocks to those of aggregate productivity shocks estimated from aggregate data. We find that the persistence of plant level shocks is surprisingly low-we estimate an average autocorrelation of the plantspecific productivity shock of only 0.37 to 0.41 on an annual basis. Finally, we find that estimates of the persistence of productivity shocks from aggregate data have a large upward bias. Estimates of the persistence of productivity shocks in the same data aggregated to the industry level produce autocorrelation estimates ranging from 0.80 to 0.91 on an annual basis. The results are robust to the inclusion of various measures of lumpiness in investment and job flows, different weighting methods, and different measures of the plants’ capital stocks.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2006/CES-WP-06-20.pdf
File Function: First version, 2006
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 06-20.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:06-20
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  1. Laura Power, 1998. "The Missing Link: Technology, Investment, And Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 300-313, May.
  2. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
  3. Mark Doms & Timothy Dunne, 1994. "Capital Adjustment Patterns in Manufacturing Plants," Working Papers 94-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris Telmer & Amir Yaron, 1996. "Asset pricing with idiosyncratic risk and overlapping generations," Economics Working Papers 405, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 1999.
  5. Douglas W Dwyer, 1996. "ARE FIXED EFFECTS FIXED? Persistence in Plant Level Productivity," Working Papers 96-3, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  7. Plutarchos Sakellaris, 2000. "Patterns of Plant Adjustment," Electronic Working Papers 00-001, University of Maryland, Department of Economics.
  8. Mark Doms & Eric J. Bartelsman, 2000. "Understanding Productivity: Lessons from Longitudinal Microdata," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 569-594, September.
  9. Levinsohn, J. & Petrin, A., 1999. "When Industries Become More Productive, Do Firms?: Investigating Productivity Dynamics," Working Papers 445, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  10. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  11. Ron S Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2002. "The Longitudinal Business Database," Working Papers 02-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  12. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A & Haltiwanger, John, 1997. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 115-37, March.
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