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Returns to Scale in Small and Large U.S. Manufacturing Establishments

  • Sang V Nguyen
  • Arnold P Reznek

The objective of this study is to assess the possibility of differences in the production technologies between large and small establishments in five selected 4-digit SIC manufacturing industries. We particularly focus on estimating returns to scale and then make interferences regarding the efficiency of small businesses relative to large businesses. Using cross-section data for two census years, 1977 and 1982, we estimate a transcendental logarithmic (translog) production model that provides direct estimates of economies of scale parameters for both small and large establishments. Our primary findings are: (i) there are significant differences in the production technologies between small and large establishments; and (ii) based on the scale parameter estimates, small establishments appear to be as efficient as large establishments under normal economic conditions, suggesting that large size is not a necessary condition for efficient production. However, small establishments seem to be unable to maintain constant returns to scale production during economic recession such as that in 1982.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/1990/CES-WP-90-11.pdf
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 90-11.

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Date of creation: Sep 1990
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Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:90-11
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  1. Gallant, A. Ronald & Jorgenson, Dale W., 1979. "Statistical inference for a system of simultaneous, non-linear, implicit equations in the context of instrumental variable estimation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2-3), pages 275-302.
  2. McFadden, Daniel, 1978. "The General Linear Profit Function," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters, in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 1, chapter 5 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
  3. Burgess, David F., 1975. "Duality theory and pitfalls in the specification of technologies," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 105-121, May.
  4. W. Erwin Diewert & T.J. Wales, 1989. "Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions," NBER Technical Working Papers 0040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Guilkey, David K & Lovell, C A Knox & Sickles, Robin C, 1983. "A Comparison of the Performance of Three Flexible Functional Forms," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(3), pages 591-616, October.
  6. Robert H Mcguckin & George A Pascoe, 1988. "The Longitudinal Research Database (LRD): Status And Research Possibilities," Working Papers 88-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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