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The Nature of Firm Growth

Author

Listed:
  • Benjamin W. Pugsley
  • Peter Sedlacek
  • Vincent Sterk

Abstract

Only half of all startups survive past the age of five and surviving businesses grow at vastly different speeds. Using micro data on employment in the population of U.S. Businesses, we estimate that the lion's share of these differences is driven by ex-ante heterogeneity across firms, rather than by ex-post shocks. We embed such heterogeneity in a firm dynamics model and study how ex-ante differences shape the distribution of firm size, "up-or-out" dynamics, and the associated gains in aggregate output. "Gazelles" - a small subset of startups with particularly high growth potential - emerge as key drivers of these outcomes. Analyzing changes in the distribution of ex-ante firm heterogeneity over time reveals that the birth rate and growth potential of gazelles has declined, creating substantial aggregate losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin W. Pugsley & Peter Sedlacek & Vincent Sterk, 2018. "The Nature of Firm Growth," Working Papers 18-30, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:18-30
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ana Fontoura Gouveia & Christian Osterhold, 2018. "Fear the walking dead: zombie firms, spillovers and exit barriers," Working Papers w201811, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    2. Jose Asturias & Emin Dinlersoz & John Haltiwanger & Rebecca Hutchinson, 2021. "Business Applications as Economic Indicators," Working Papers 21-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. Stolbov, Mikhail & Shchepeleva, Maria, 2020. "Systemic risk, economic policy uncertainty and firm bankruptcies: Evidence from multivariate causal inference," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 52(C).
    4. Christoph Albert & Andrea Caggese, 2018. "Cyclical fluctuations, financial shocks, and the entry of fast-growing entrepreneurial startups," Economics Working Papers 1628, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jun 2019.
    5. Shai Bernstein & Emanuele Colonnelli & Davide Malacrino & Timothy McQuade, 2018. "Who Creates New Firms When Local Opportunities Arise?," NBER Working Papers 25112, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Sebastian Doerr, 2019. "Unintended side effects: stress tests, entrepreneurship, and innovation," BIS Working Papers 823, Bank for International Settlements.
    7. John C. Haltiwanger, 2021. "Entrepreneurship during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from the Business Formation Statistics," NBER Chapters, in: Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy and the Economy, volume 1, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Ufuk Akcigit & Emin Dinlersoz & Jeremy Greenwood & Veronika Penciakova, 2019. "Synergizing Ventures," 2019 Meeting Papers 36, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Joonkyu Choi & Nathan Goldschlag & John Haltiwanger & J. Daniel Kim, 2019. "Founding Teams and Startup Performance," Working Papers 19-32, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    10. Cavallari, Lilia & Romano, Simone & Naticchioni, Paolo, 2021. "The original sin: Firms’ dynamics and the life-cycle consequences of economic conditions at birth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 138(C).
    11. Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde & Lee Ohanian, 2018. "The Lack of European Productivity Growth: Causes and Lessons for the U.S," PIER Working Paper Archive 18-024, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 07 Sep 2018.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Firm Dynamics; Startups; Macroeconomics; Big Data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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