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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. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Jan De Loecker & Frederic Warzynski, 2009. "Markups and firm-level export status," NBER Working Papers 15198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Allan Collard-Wexler, 2010. "Productivity Dispersion and Plant Selection in the Ready-Mix Concrete Industry," 2010 Meeting Papers 105, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. 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.
  7. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J Klenow, 2008. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," 2008 Meeting Papers 121, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Jan De Loecker, 2004. "Do Exports Generate Higher Productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," LICOS Discussion Papers 15104, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  9. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," Working Papers 05-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2008. "Policy Distortions and Aggregate Productivity with Heterogeneous Plants," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(4), pages 707-720, October.
  11. George S Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics Of Productivity In The Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Working Papers 92-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  12. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.).
  14. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
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