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The Importance of Reallocations in Cyclical Productivity and Returns to Scale: Evidence from Plant-Level Data

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  • Yoonsoo Lee

Abstract

This paper provides new evidence that estimates based on aggregate data will understate the true procyclicality of total factor productivity. I examine plant-level data and show that some industries experience countercyclical reallocations of output shares among firms at different points in the business cycle, so that during recessions, less productive firms produce less of the total output, but during expansions they produce more. These reallocations cause overall productivity to rise during recessions, and do not reflect the actual path of productivity of a representative firm over the course of the business cycle. Such an effect (sometimes called the cleansing effect of recessions) may also bias aggregate estimates of returns to scale and help explain why decreasing returns to scale are found at the industry-level data.

Suggested Citation

  • Yoonsoo Lee, 2007. "The Importance of Reallocations in Cyclical Productivity and Returns to Scale: Evidence from Plant-Level Data," Working Papers 07-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:07-05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:red:issued:16-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Albert Banal‐Estañol & Paul Heidhues & Rainer Nitsche & Jo Seldeslachts, 2010. "Screening And Merger Activity," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 794-817, December.
    3. Jensen Christian, 2016. "On the macroeconomic effects of heterogeneous productivity shocks," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 1-23, January.
    4. Cesar Tamayo, . "Bankruptcy Choice with Endogenous Financial Constraints," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Carvalho, Vasco M & Grassi, Basile, 2015. "Large Firm Dynamics and the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 10587, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Basile Grassi & Vasco Carvalho, 2015. "Firm Dynamics and the Granular Hypothesis," 2015 Meeting Papers 617, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Entry; Exit; Productivity; Returns to Scale;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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