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Agglomeration Elasticities and Firm Heterogeneity

  • Daniel J. Graham
  • David C. Maré

This paper estimates the relationship between agglomeration and multi factor productivity at the one digit industry level and by region using longitudinal firm level data for New Zealand. A key focus of the paper is on methods to represent firm level heterogeneity and non-random sorting of firms. The panel structure of the data allows us to control for it at the level of local industries or enterprises. We obtain a cross-sectional agglomeration elasticity of 0.171, which falls by 70% when we use local industry controls, and by 90% when we impose enterprise fixed effects. Using industry specific production functions, we find that the "within local industry" estimates are similar, though slightly larger than the cross sectional estimates (~0.070), suggesting negative sorting between areas, combined with positive sorting within areas. The within-enterprise estimates yield a small elasticity of 0.010. Our results indicate that the imposition of a common production technology across all industries is not a valid assumption. While cross-sectional estimates may overstate the true impact of agglomeration on productivity in the presence of positive bias from sorting, the within enterprise approach (which is increasingly common in the literature) can suffer from identification problems due to the highly persistent nature of agglomeration variables and may understate the true causal effect of agglomeration on productivity. We thus rely on the "within local industry" estimates as providing the most reliable indication of agglomeration elasticities.

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Paper provided by Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE in its series SERC Discussion Papers with number 0043.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cep:sercdp:0043
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.spatialeconomics.ac.uk/SERC/publications/default.asp

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  1. David C. Maré, 2008. "Labour Productivity in Auckland Firms," Working Papers 08_12, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  2. Daniel Graham & H. Kim, 2008. "An empirical analytical framework for agglomeration economies," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 267-289, June.
  3. Z, Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1997. "Production Functions : The Search for Identification," Working Papers 97-30, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  4. Daniel Graham & Kurt Dender, 2011. "Estimating the agglomeration benefits of transport investments: some tests for stability," Transportation, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 409-426, May.
  5. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2009. "On estimating firm-level production functions using proxy variables to control for unobservables," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 104(3), pages 112-114, September.
  6. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent, 2008. "Spatial wage disparities: Sorting matters!," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 723-742, March.
  7. Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga, 2010. "Labor Pooling as a Source of Agglomeration: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Chapters, in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 133-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Strange, William C., 2004. "Evidence on the nature and sources of agglomeration economies," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 49, pages 2119-2171 Elsevier.
  9. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2004. "Micro-foundations of urban agglomeration economies," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 48, pages 2063-2117 Elsevier.
  10. Jofre-Monseny, Jordi & Marín-López, Raquel & Viladecans-Marsal, Elisabet, 2011. "The mechanisms of agglomeration: Evidence from the effect of inter-industry relations on the location of new firms," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 61-74.
  11. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  12. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon & Sébastien Roux, 2010. "Estimating Agglomeration Economies with History, Geology, and Worker Effects," NBER Chapters, in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 15-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Antonio Ciccone & Robert E. Hall, 1993. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 4313, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Williamson, John & Paling, Richard & Waite, David, 2008. "Assessing Agglomeration Impacts in Auckland: Phase 1," Occasional Papers 08/5, Ministry of Economic Development, New Zealand.
  15. Zvi Griliches & Jerry A. Hausman, 1984. "Errors in Variables in Panel Data," NBER Technical Working Papers 0037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Glenn Ellison & Edward L. Glaeser & William Kerr, 2007. "What Causes Industry Agglomeration? Evidence from Coagglomeration Patterns," NBER Working Papers 13068, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Christensen, Laurits R & Jorgenson, Dale W & Lau, Lawrence J, 1973. "Transcendental Logarithmic Production Frontiers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(1), pages 28-45, February.
  18. Ackerberg, Daniel & Caves, Kevin & Frazer, Garth, 2006. "Structural identification of production functions," MPRA Paper 38349, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. Sabrina Di Addario & Eleonora Patacchini, 2007. "Wages and the City. Evidence from Italy," Development Working Papers 231, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  20. David C. Maré & Daniel J. Graham, 2009. "Agglomeration Elasticities in New Zealand," Working Papers 09_06, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  21. Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Strange, William C., 2008. "The attenuation of human capital spillovers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 373-389, September.
  22. Williamson, John & Paling, Richard & Staheli, Ramon & Waite, David, 2008. "Assessing Agglomeration Impacts in Auckland: Phase 2," Occasional Papers 08/6, Ministry of Economic Development, New Zealand.
  23. Melo, Patricia C. & Graham, Daniel J. & Noland, Robert B., 2009. "A meta-analysis of estimates of urban agglomeration economies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 332-342, May.
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