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Macro and Micro Dynamics of Productivity: From Devilish Details to Insights

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  • Lucia S. Foster
  • Cheryl A. Grim
  • John Haltiwanger
  • Zoltan Wolf

Abstract

Researchers use a variety of methods to estimate total factor productivity (TFP) at the firm level and, while these may seem broadly equivalent, how the resulting measures relate to the TFP concept in theoretical models depends on the assumptions about the environment in which firms operate. Interpreting these measures and drawing insights based upon their characteristics thus must take into account these conceptual differences. Absent data on prices and quantities, most methods yield “revenue productivity” measures. We focus on two broad classes of revenue productivity measures in our examination of the relationship between measured and conceptual TFP (TFPQ). The first measure has been increasingly used as a measure of idiosyncratic distortions and to assess the degree of misallocation. The second measure is, under standard assumptions, a function of funda- mentals (e.g., TFPQ). Using plant-level U.S. manufacturing data, we find these alternative measures are (i) highly correlated; (ii) exhibit similar dispersion; and (iii) have similar relationships with growth and survival. These findings raise questions about interpreting the first measure as a measure of idiosyncratic distortions. We also explore the sensitivity of estimates of the contribution of reallocation to aggregate productivity growth to these alternative approaches. We use recently developed structural decompositions of aggregate productivity growth that depend critically on estimates of output versus revenue elasticities. We find alternative approaches all yield a significant contribution of reallocation to productivity growth (although the quantitative contribution varies across approaches).

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  • Lucia S. Foster & Cheryl A. Grim & John Haltiwanger & Zoltan Wolf, 2017. "Macro and Micro Dynamics of Productivity: From Devilish Details to Insights," Working Papers 17-41, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:17-41
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    Cited by:

    1. T. Kirk White & Jerome P. Reiter & Amil Petrin, 2018. "Imputation in U.S. Manufacturing Data and Its Implications for Productivity Dispersion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(3), pages 502-509, July.
    2. Gonzales-Rocha, Erick & Mendez-Guerra, Carlos, 2018. "Increasing productivity dispersion: Evidence from light manufacturing in Brazil," MPRA Paper 88478, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Galaasen, Sigurd & Jamilov, Rustam & Juelsrud, Ragnar Enger & Rey, Hélène, 2020. "Granular Credit Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 15385, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Nicholas Bloom & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lucia Foster & Ron Jarmin & Megha Patnaik & Itay Saporta-Eksten & John Van Reenen, 2019. "What Drives Differences in Management Practices?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(5), pages 1648-1683, May.
    5. Emin Dinlersoz & Zoltan Wolf, 2018. "Automation, Labor Share, and Productivity: Plant-Level Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 18-39, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    6. Eric J. Bartelsman & Zoltan Wolf, 2017. "Measuring Productivity Dispersion," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-033/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Francesco Manaresi & Nicola Pierri, 2018. "Credit supply and productivity growth," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1168, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    8. Sara Calligaris & Massimo Del Gatto & Fadi Hassan & Gianmarco I P Ottaviano & Fabiano Schivardi & Tommaso MonacelliManaging Editor, 2018. "The productivity puzzle and misallocation: an Italian perspective," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 33(96), pages 635-684.
    9. Cindy Cunningham & Lucia Foster & Cheryl Grim & John Haltiwanger & Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia & Jay Stewart & Zoltan Wolf, 2018. "Dispersion in Dispersion: Measuring Establishment-Level Differences in Productivity," Working Papers 18-25, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    10. Matt Marx, 2018. "Punctuated Entrepreneurship (Among Women)," Working Papers 18-26, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    11. Lucia Foster & Cheryl Grim & John Haltiwanger & Zoltan Wolf, 2019. "Innovation, Productivity Dispersion, and Productivity Growth," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Accounting for Innovation in the Twenty-First Century, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Francesco Manaresi & Nicola Pierri, 2018. "Credit supply and productivity growth," BIS Working Papers 711, Bank for International Settlements.
    13. Massimo Del Gatto & Fadi Hassan & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Fabiano Schivardi, 2019. "Company Profits in Italy," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 093, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    14. Doerr, Sebastian, 2018. "Collateral, Reallocation, and Aggregate Productivity: Evidence from the U.S. Housing Boom," MPRA Paper 106163, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Lucia Foster & Cheryl Grim & John Haltiwanger & Zoltan Wolf, 2016. "Firm-Level Dispersion in Productivity: Is the Devil in the Details?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 95-98, May.
    16. Deng, Zhongqi & Jiang, Nan & Song, Shunfeng & Pang, Ruizhi, 2021. "Misallocation and price distortions: A revenue decomposition of medical service providers in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    17. Mr. Nicola Pierri & Francesco Manaresi, 2019. "Credit Supply and Productivity Growth," IMF Working Papers 2019/107, International Monetary Fund.

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    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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