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Competition and Productivity: Evidence from the Post WWII U.S. Cement Industry

  • Timothy Dunne
  • Shawn Klimek
  • James Schmitz, Jr.

In the mid 1980s, the U.S. cement industry faced a large increase in foreign competition. Foreign cement producers began offering cement at very large discounts on U.S. prices. We show that productivity (measured by TFP) in the industry was falling during the 1960s and 1970s, but that following the increase in competition, productivity has reversed course and is growing strongly. When foreign competition was weak, productivity fell. When it was strong, productivity grew robustly. We explore the reasons for the large productivity increase. We argue that a large share of the productivity gains resulted from significant changes in management practices at plants.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2010/CES-WP-10-29.pdf
File Function: First version, 2010
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 10-29.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:10-29
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  3. Nick Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Measuring and explaining management practices across firms and countries," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 733, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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  15. Jose E. Galdon-Sanchez & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 2003. "Competitive pressure and labor productivity: world iron ore markets in the 1980s," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 9-23.
  16. Thomas J Holmes & David K Levine & James A Schmitz Jr, 2008. "Monopoly and the Incentive to Innovate When Adoption Involves Switchover Disruptions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001920, David K. Levine.
  17. Mary Amiti & Jozef Konings, 2005. "Trade Liberalization, Intermediate Inputs, and Productivity; Evidence From Indonesia," IMF Working Papers 05/146, International Monetary Fund.
  18. Hay, Donald A, 2001. "The Post-1990 Brazilian Trade Liberalisation and the Performance of Large Manufacturing Firms: Productivity, Market Share and Profits," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 620-41, July.
  19. Alberto Salvo, 2010. "Inferring market power under the threat of entry: the case of the Brazilian cement industry," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(2), pages 326-350.
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  21. Allan Collard-Wexler, 2006. "Plant Turnover and Demand Fluctuations in the Ready-Mix Concrete Industry," Working Papers 06-08, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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