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Productivity volatility and the misallocation of resources in developing economies

  • Asker, John
  • Collard-Wexler, Allan
  • De Loecker, Jan

We investigate the role of dynamic production inputs and their associated adjustment costs in shaping the dispersion of total factor productivity (TFP) and static measures of capital misallocation within a country. Using data on 5,010 establishments in 33 developing countries from the World Bank’s Enterprise Research Data, we find that countries exhibiting greater time-series volatility of productivity are also characterized by greater cross-sectional dispersion in productivity. Volatility in TFP explains one quarter to one third of cross-country productivity dispersion. We document a similar relationship between productivity volatility and the dispersion of the marginal revenue product of capital (static capital misallocation). We then use a standard model of investment with adjustment costs, parameterized using numbers calibrated to U.S. data, to show that increasing the volatility of productivity to the level observed in these developing economies can quantitatively replicate the observed relationship between static misallocation and volatility observed in the data. We find that sixty-one percent of the static capital misallocation in the data is captured by the model’s prediction. Our findings suggest that the dynamic process governing productivity shocks is a first-order determinant of differences in misallocation and, hence, income across countries.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8469.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8469
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  1. Richard Rogerson & Diego Restuccia, 2004. "Policy Distortions and Aggregate Productivity with Heterogeneous Plants," 2004 Meeting Papers 69, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Allan Collard-Wexler, 2011. "Productivity Dispersion and Plant Selection in the Ready-Mix Concrete Industry," Working Papers 11-25, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341, 04.
  4. Foster, Lucia & Haltiwanger, John C. & Syverson, Chad, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," IZA Discussion Papers 1705, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Chang, Tai Hsieh & Peter, J- Klenow, 2007. "Misallocation and manufacturing TFP in China and India," MPRA Paper 35084, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Jun 2007.
  7. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
  9. De Loecker, Jan & Warzynski, Frederic, 2009. "Markups and Firm-level Export Status," CEPR Discussion Papers 7450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Pindyck, Robert S., 1992. "Uncertainty, investment, and industry evolution," Working papers 3460-92., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  11. Russell W. Cooper & John C. Haltiwanger, 2006. "On the Nature of Capital Adjustment Costs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 611-633.
  12. Bartelsman, Eric & Haltiwanger, John C. & Scarpetta, Stefano, 2009. "Cross-Country Differences in Productivity: The Role of Allocation and Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 4578, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Pinelopi Goldberg & Amit Khandelwal & Nina Pavcnik & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Trade Liberalization and New Imported Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 494-500, May.
  14. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  15. De Loecker, Jan, 2007. "Do exports generate higher productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 69-98, September.
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