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A structural empirical model of firm growth, learning, and survival

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  • Jaap H. Abbring
  • Jeffrey R. Campbell

Abstract

In this paper we develop an empirical model of entrepreneurs' business continuation decisions, and we estimate its parameters using a new panel of monthly alcohol tax returns from bars in the state of Texas. In our data, entrepreneurial failure is frequent and predictable. In the first year of life, 20% of our sample's bars exit, and these tend to be smaller than average. In the model, an entrepreneur bases her business continuation decision on potentially noisy signals of her bar's future profits. The presence of noise implies that she should make her decision based on both current and past realizations of the signal. We observe for each bar its sales, which we assume, equals a noisy version of the entrepreneur's signal. That is, the entrepreneur's information about her bar is private. ; The entrepreneur's private information makes the estimation of our model challenging, because we cannot observe the inputs into her decision process. Nevertheless, we are able to recover from our observations the parameters characterizing the entrepreneur's learning process and the noise contaminating publicly available sales observations. The key to our analysis is to note that our ability to forecast the entrepreneur's decisions reveals the amount of noise contaminating publicly available sales observations. We infer that public and private information differ little if we can forecast entrepreneurs' business continuation decisions well. With this information, we can then determine whether the usefulness of past sales observations for forecasting future sales arises only from the noise contaminating public observations or if the observations imply the presence of additional noise contaminating entrepreneurs' observations. ; We estimate our model using observations from the first twelve months of life for approximately 300 Texas bars. We find that entrepreneurs observe the persistent component of profit without error. In this sense, their information is substantially superior to the public's.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-03-11
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    Cited by:

    1. Abbring, Jaap H., 2003. "Dynamic Econometric Program Evaluation," IZA Discussion Papers 804, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Jaap H. Abbring & Jeffrey R. Campbell, 2004. "Creative destruction in local markets," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, vol. 28(Q II), pages 50-60.
    3. Costas Arkolakis & Theodore Papageorgiou & Olga Timoshenko, 2018. "Firm Learning and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 27, pages 146-168, January.
      • Costas Arkolakis & Theodore Papageorgiou & Olga A. Timoshenko, 2015. "Firm Learning and Growth," Working Papers 2015-5, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    4. Prantl, Susanne, 2003. "Bankruptcy and Voluntary Liquidation: Evidence for New Firms in East and West Germany after Unification," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-72, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    5. Li, Shengyu, 2018. "A structural model of productivity, uncertain demand, and export dynamics," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 1-15.
    6. Costas Arkolakis, 2016. "A Unified Theory of Firm Selection and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 89-155.
    7. Brendan Epstein & Alan Finkelstein Shapiro & Andres Gonzalez Gomez, 2017. "Financial Disruptions and the Cyclical Upgrading of Labor," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 204-224, October.
    8. Wei, Shang-Jin & Wei, Ziru & Xu, Jianhuan, 2021. "On the market failure of “missing pioneers”," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business enterprises; Corporations;

    JEL classification:

    • C34 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Truncated and Censored Models; Switching Regression Models
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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