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On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory


  • Cabral, Luís M B
  • Mata, José


Using a comprehensive data set of Portuguese manufacturing firms, we show that the firm size distribution is significantly right-skewed, evolving over time toward a log-normal distribution. We also show that selection accounts for very little of this evolution. Instead, we propose a simple theory based on financing constraint. A calibrated version of our model does a good job at explaining the evolution of the firm size distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Cabral, Luís M B & Mata, José, 2001. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 3045, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3045

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard Ericson & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82.
    2. Rui Albuquerque & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2004. "Optimal Lending Contracts and Firm Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 285-315.
    3. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
    4. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-670, May.
    5. Thomas F. Cooley & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2001. "Financial Markets and Firm Dynamics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1286-1310, December.
    6. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-827, August.
    7. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-1150, September.
    8. Xu, Bin, 1998. "A reestimation of the Evans-Jovanovic entrepreneurial choice model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 91-95, January.
    9. Hall, Bronwyn H, 1987. "The Relationship between Firm Size and Firm Growth in the U.S. Manufacturing Sector," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 583-606, June.
    10. Evans, David S, 1987. "Tests of Alternative Theories of Firm Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 657-674, August.
    11. Cressy, Robert, 1996. "Are Business Startups Debt-Rationed?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1253-1270, September.
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    More about this item


    financing constraints; firm growth; firm size distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • L00 - Industrial Organization - - General - - - General


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