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Productivity Dispersion and Input Prices: The Case of Electricity

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  • Steven Davis
  • Cheryl Grim
  • John Haltiwanger

Abstract

We exploit a rich new database on Prices and Quantities of Electricity in Manufacturing (PQEM) to study electricity productivity in the U.S. manufacturing sector. The database contains nearly 2 million customer-level observations (i.e., manufacturing plants) from 1963 to 2000. It allows us to construct plant-level measures of price paid per kWh, output per kWh, output per dollar spent on electric power and labor productivity. Using this database, we first document tremendous dispersion among U.S. manufacturing plants in electricity productivity measures and a strong negative relationship between price per kWh and output per kWh hour within narrowly defined industries. Using an IV strategy to isolate exogenous price variation, we estimate that the average elasticity of output per kWh with respect to the price of electricity is about 0.6 during the period from 1985 to 2000. We also develop evidence that this price-physical efficiency tradeoff is stronger for industries with bigger electricity cost shares. Finally, we develop evidence that stronger competitive pressures in the output market lead to less dispersion among manufacturing plants in price per kWh and in electricity productivity measures. The strength of competition effects on dispersion is similar for electricity productivity and labor productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Davis & Cheryl Grim & John Haltiwanger, 2008. "Productivity Dispersion and Input Prices: The Case of Electricity," Working Papers 08-33, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:08-33
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2008/CES-WP-08-33.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Product Substitutability and Productivity Dispersion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 534-550, May.
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    3. 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.
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    5. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 295-316.
    6. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2008. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 394-425.
    7. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
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    9. 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.
    10. Chad Syverson, 2007. "PRICES, SPATIAL COMPETITION AND HETEROGENEOUS PRODUCERS: AN EMPIRICAL TEST -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 197-222, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Enghin Atalay, 2014. "Materials Prices And Productivity," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 575-611, June.
    2. Hunt Allcott & Allan Collard-Wexler & Stephen D. O'Connell, 2016. "How Do Electricity Shortages Affect Industry? Evidence from India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 587-624, March.
    3. Ghani, Ejaz & Goswami, Arti Grover & Kerr, William R., 2014. "Spatial dynamics of electricity usage in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7055, The World Bank.
    4. T. Kirk White & Jerome P. Reiter & Amil Petrin, 2012. "Plant-level Productivity and Imputation of Missing Data in U.S. Census Manufacturing Data," NBER Working Papers 17816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Stephen O'Connell & Allan Collard-Wexler & Hunt Allcott, 2015. "How Do Electricity Shortages A," 2015 Meeting Papers 159, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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