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

A Unified Theory of Firm Selection and Growth

  • Costas Arkolakis

This paper develops a theory of firm selection and growth and embeds it into an international trade framework of balanced growth. I assume that firm-level growth is the result of idiosyncratic productivity improvements while there is continuous arrival of new potential producers. Firms can also pay an increasing market penetration cost to sell more to a given market. The model is consistent with a set of salient regularities of firm and exporter selection and growth, as well as the observed distribution of sales. I calibrate the model parameters that determine firm dynamics by looking at the exit rates of a cohort at the US census and the elasticity of trade in Eaton and Kortum. This elasticity is regulated in the model by the firm-level growth process. The calibrated model can account for almost all the turnover and growth of US census cohorts over two decades. It can also account for a large part of the turnover and growth of Colombian exporters in individual destinations.

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:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2679.

in new window

Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2679
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich

Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
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. George Alessandria & Horag Choi, 2007. "Establishment heterogeneity, exporter dynamics, and the effects of trade liberalization," Working Papers 07-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2004. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety," NBER Working Papers 10314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Establishment Size Dynamics in the Aggregate Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1639-1666, December.
  4. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  5. Francois Gourio & Leena Rudanko, 2011. "Customer Capital," NBER Working Papers 17191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lukasz A. Drozd & Jaromir B. Nosal, 2012. "Understanding International Prices: Customers as Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 364-95, February.
  7. Evans, David S., 1986. "The Relationship Between Firm Growth, Size, and Age: Estimates for 100 Manufacturing Industries," Working Papers 86-33, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Costas Arkolakis & Sharat Ganapati & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2016. "The Extensive Margin of Exporting Products: A Firm-level Analysis," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2028, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Costas Arkolakis & Svetlana Demidova & Peter J. Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2008. "Endogenous Variety and the Gains from Trade," NBER Working Papers 13933, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lentz, Rasmus & Mortensen, Dale T., 2005. "An Empirical Model of Growth Through Product Innovation," IZA Discussion Papers 1685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Joaquim Oliveira Martins & Stefano Scarpetta & Dirk Pilat, 1996. "Mark-Up Ratios in Manufacturing Industries: Estimates for 14 OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 162, OECD Publishing.
  12. William J. Reed, 2002. "On the Rank-Size Distribution for Human Settlements," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17.
  13. Klette, Tor Jakob & Kortum, Samuel S, 2002. "Innovating Firms and Aggregate Innovation," CEPR Discussion Papers 3248, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  15. Natalie Chen & Dennis Novy, 2009. "International trade integration: a disaggregated approach," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28516, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  16. Albornoz-Crespo, Facundo & Calvo Pardo, Hector F. & Corcos, Gregory & Ornelas, Emanuel, 2010. "Sequential Exporting," CEPR Discussion Papers 8103, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Hart, Peter E & Oulton, Nicholas, 1996. "Growth and Size of Firms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1242-52, September.
  18. An, Mark Yuying, 1995. "Logconcavity versus Logconvexity: A Complete Characterization," Working Papers 95-03, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  19. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  20. John Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2010. "Who Creates Jobs? Small vs. Large vs. Young," Working Papers 10-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  21. Impullitti, Giammario & Irarrazabal, Alfonso A. & Opromolla, Luca David, 2013. "A theory of entry into and exit from export markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 75-90.
  22. Jonathan L. Willis & Kim J. Ruhl, 2009. "New Exporter Dynamics," 2009 Meeting Papers 111, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  23. Luca David Opromolla & Alfonso Irarrazabal, 2005. "Hysteresis in Export Markets," International Trade 0512003, EconWPA.
  24. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  25. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  26. Giuseppe Moscarini, 2005. "Job Matching and the Wage Distribution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 481-516, 03.
  27. Danielken Molina & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2013. "Preparing to Export," NBER Working Papers 18962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2012. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 94-130, February.
  29. Evans, David S., 1986. "Tests of Alternative Theories of Firm Growth," Working Papers 86-36, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  30. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "Selection, Growth, and the Size Distribution of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1103-1144.
  31. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  32. Costas Arkolakis, 2008. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 14214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Francis Kramarz & Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2005. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," 2005 Meeting Papers 197, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  34. Alfonso A. Irarrazabal & Luca David Opromolla, 2009. "The Cross Sectional Dynamics of Heterogenous Trade Models," Working Papers w200924, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  35. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
  36. Reed, William J., 2001. "The Pareto, Zipf and other power laws," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 15-19, December.
  37. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger & Ronald S. Jarmin & C.J. Krizan & Javier Miranda & Alfred Nucci & Kristin Sandusky, 2009. "Measuring the Dynamics of Young and Small Businesses: Integrating the Employer and Nonemployer Universes," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 329-366 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Jaap H. Abbring & Jeffrey R. Campbell, 2003. "A structural empirical model of firm growth, learning, and survival," Working Paper Series WP-03-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  39. Thomas F. Cooley & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2001. "Financial Markets and Firm Dynamics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1286-1310, December.
  40. Stephen Davis & John Haltiwanger & Ron Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2006. "Volatility and Dispersion in Business Growth Rates: Publicly Traded Versus Privately Held Firms," Working Papers 06-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  41. Arellano, Cristina & Bai, Yan & Zhang, Jing, 2012. "Firm dynamics and financial development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(6), pages 533-549.
  42. repec:stn:sotoec:1003 is not listed on IDEAS
  43. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  44. Richard E. Caves, 1998. "Industrial Organization and New Findings on the Turnover and Mobility of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 1947-1982, December.
  45. Theodore Papageorgiou, 2014. "Learning Your Comparative Advantages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 1263-1295.
  46. L. A. N. Amaral & S. V. Buldyrev & S. Havlin & H. Leschhorn & P. Maass & M. A. Salinger & H. E. Stanley & M. H. R. Stanley, 1997. "Scaling behavior in economics: I. Empirical results for company growth," Papers cond-mat/9702082,
  47. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
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:ces:ceswps:_2679. 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: (Klaus Wohlrabe)

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.