IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

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

  • Yoonsoo Lee

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: First version, 2007
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 07-05.

in new window

Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:07-05
Contact details of provider: Postal: 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233
Phone: (301) 763-6460
Fax: (301) 763-5935
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Robert E. Hall, 1986. "The Relation Between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," NBER Working Papers 1785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Satyajit Chatterjee & Russell W. Cooper, 1993. "Entry and exit, product variety and the business cycle," Working Papers 93-30, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
  5. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, June.
  6. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1993. "Dynamic General Equilibrium Models with Imperfectly Competitive Product Markets," NBER Working Papers 4502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G, 1997. "Returns to Scale in U.S. Production: Estimates and Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 249-83, April.
  8. Susanto Basu & John Fernald & Miles Kimball, 2004. "Are Technology Improvements Contractionary?," NBER Working Papers 10592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "The Importance of Measurement Error in the Cost of Capital," NBER Working Papers 7558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Campbell, J.R., 1995. "Entry, Exit, Technology, and Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers 407, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  11. Goolsbee, Austan, 2000. "The Importance of Measurement Error in the Cost of Capital," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 2), pages 215-28, June.
  12. Solon, Gary & Barsky, Robert & Parker, Jonathan A, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important Is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25, February.
  13. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Devereux, Michael B. & Head, Allen C. & Lapham, Beverly J., 1996. "Aggregate fluctuations with increasing returns to specialization and scale," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 627-656, April.
  15. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C.J. Krizan, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons from Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Westbrook, M Daniel & Tybout, James R, 1993. "Estimating Returns to Scale with Large, Imperfect Panels: An Application to Chilean Manufacturing Industries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 7(1), pages 85-112, January.
  17. Klette, T.J., 1992. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators when Output Prices are unobserved and Endogenous," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1586, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  18. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1997. "Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology," International Finance Discussion Papers 593, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. John Haltiwanger, 1997. "Measuring and analyzing aggregate fluctuations: the importance of building from microeconomic evidence," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 55-78.
  20. Bils, Mark & Chang, Yongsung, 2000. "Understanding how price responds to costs and production," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 33-77, June.
  21. repec:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:1:p:1-25 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Chang, Yongsung, 2000. "Wages, business cycles, and comparative advantage," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 143-171, August.
  23. Bils, Mark J, 1985. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 666-89, August.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:07-05. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Fariha Kamal)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.