IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Materials Prices and Productivity

  • Enghin Atalay

There is substantial within-industry variation, even within industries that use and produce homogeneous inputs and outputs, in the prices that plants pay for their material inputs. I explore, using plant-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the consequences and sources of this variation in materials prices. For a sample of industries with relatively homogeneous products, the standard deviation of plant-level productivities would be 7% lower if all plants faced the same materials prices. Moreover, plant-level materials prices are both persistent across time and predictive of exit. The contribution of net entry to aggregate productivity growth is smaller for productivity measures that strip out di¤erences in materials prices. After documenting these patterns, I discuss three potential sources of materials price variation: geography, di¤erences in suppliers. marginal costs, and suppliers. price discriminatory behavior. Together, these variables account for 13% of the dispersion of materials prices. Finally, I demonstrate that plants.marginal costs are correlated with the marginal costs of their intermediate input suppliers.

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, 2012
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 12-11.

in new window

Length: 72 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:12-11
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. Natarajan Balasubramanian & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2008. "What Happens When Firms Patent? New Evidence from U.S. Economic Census Data," Working Papers 08-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Katayama, Hajime & Lu, Shihua & Tybout, James R., 2009. "Firm-level productivity studies: Illusions and a solution," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 403-413, May.
  3. Eslava, Marcela & Haltiwanger, John & Kugler, Adriana & Kugler, Maurice, 2004. "The effects of structural reforms on productivity and profitability enhancing reallocation: evidence from Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 333-371, December.
  4. Chad Syverson, 2003. "Product Substitutability and Productivity Dispersion," NBER Working Papers 10049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2007. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," Discussion Papers 07-006, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  7. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
  8. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Why Do Management Practices Differ across Firms and Countries?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 203-24, Winter.
  9. S.K. Bhutani, 2009. "China and India," India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, Indian Council of World Affairs, vol. 65(4), pages 383-391, October.
  10. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2006. "Transfer Pricing by U.S.-Based Multinational Firms," NBER Working Papers 12493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Richard Blundell & Stephen Bond, 2000. "GMM Estimation with persistent panel data: an application to production functions," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 321-340.
  12. Ackerberg, Daniel & Caves, Kevin & Frazer, Garth, 2006. "Structural identification of production functions," MPRA Paper 38349, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1181-1222, December.
  16. Mihai Manea, 2011. "Bargaining in Stationary Networks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2042-80, August.
  17. Jean-Pierre Dubé & Günter J. Hitsch & Peter E. Rossi, 2010. "State dependence and alternative explanations for consumer inertia," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(3), pages 417-445.
  18. Jeremy T. Fox & Valérie Smeets, 2011. "Does Input Quality Drive Measured Differences In Firm Productivity?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(4), pages 961-989, November.
  19. Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2007. "Using Firm Optimization to Evaluate and Estimate Returns to Scale," NBER Working Papers 13666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 326-65, June.
  21. 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.
  22. Daron Acemoglu & Vasco Carvalho & Asuman Ozdaglar & Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, 2011. "The Network Origins of Aggregate Fluctuations," Working Papers 587, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  23. Charles I. Jones, 2011. "Intermediate Goods and Weak Links in the Theory of Economic Development," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-28, April.
  24. Roberts, Mark J. & Supina, Dylan, 1996. "Output price, markups, and producer size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 909-921, April.
  25. Plutarchos Sakellaris & Daniel J. Wilson, 2001. "Quantifying embodied technological change," Working Paper Series 2001-16, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  26. Eslava, Marcela & Haltiwanger, John C. & Kugler, Adriana & Kugler, Maurice, 2009. "Trade Reforms and Market Selection: Evidence from Manufacturing Plants in Colombia," IZA Discussion Papers 4256, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  27. 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.
  28. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2009. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1403-1448.
  29. Enghin Atalay & Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson, 2012. "Why Do Firms Own Production Chains?," NBER Working Papers 18020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2008. "The Sensitivity of Productivity Estimates," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 26, pages 311-328.
  31. Ryan Kellogg, 2009. "Learning by Drilling: Inter-Firm Learning and Relationship Persistence in the Texas Oilpatch," NBER Working Papers 15060, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Klump, Rainer & McAdam, Peter & Willman, Alpo, 2011. "The normalized CES production function: theory and empirics," Working Paper Series 1294, European Central Bank.
  33. Marcus Asplund & Volker Nocke, 2003. "Firm Turnover in Imperfectly Competitive Markets," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-010, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  34. Carmine Ornaghi, 2006. "Assessing the effects of measurement errors on the estimation of production functions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 879-891.
  35. Michael Kremer, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-575.
  36. Griliches, Zvi & Regev, Haim, 1995. "Firm productivity in Israeli industry 1979-1988," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 175-203, January.
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:12-11. 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.