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New goods and the size distribution of firms


  • Erzo G. J. Luttmer


This paper describes a simple model of aggregate and firm growth based on the introduction of new goods. An incumbent firm can combine labor with blueprints for goods it already produces to develop new blueprints. Every worker in the economy is also a potential entrepreneur who can design a new blueprint from scratch and set up a new firm. The implied firm size distribution closely matches the fat tail observed in the data when the marginal entrepreneur is far out in the tail of the entrepreneurial skill distribution. The model produces a variance of firm growth that declines with size. But the decline is more rapid than suggested by the evidence. The model also predicts a new-firm entry rate equal to only 2.5% per annum, instead of the observed rate of 10% in U.S. data.

Suggested Citation

  • Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "New goods and the size distribution of firms," Working Papers 649, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:649

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100.
    2. Satyajit Chatterjee & Esteban Rossi‐Hansberg, 2012. "Spinoffs And The Market For Ideas," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(1), pages 53-93, February.
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    4. Andrew Atkeson & Ariel Tomás Burstein, 2010. "Innovation, Firm Dynamics, and International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(3), pages 433-484, June.
    5. Sutton, John, 2002. "The variance of firm growth rates: the ‘scaling’ puzzle," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 312(3), pages 577-590.
    6. Tor Jakob Klette & Samuel Kortum, 2004. "Innovating Firms and Aggregate Innovation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 986-1018, October.
    7. Rasmus Lentz & Dale T. Mortensen, 2008. "An Empirical Model of Growth Through Product Innovation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1317-1373, November.
    8. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-670, May.
    9. Xavier Gabaix, 2011. "The Granular Origins of Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 733-772, May.
    10. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2006. "Consumer search and firm growth," Working Papers 645, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    11. Stephen Hymer & Peter Pashigian, 1962. "Firm Size and Rate of Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 556-556.
    12. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
    13. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-1150, September.
    14. Burdett, Kenneth & Vishwanath, Tara, 1988. "Balanced Matching and Labor Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 1048-1065, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Garicano, Luis & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2012. "Organizing growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 623-656.
    2. Andrew Atkeson & Ariel Tomás Burstein, 2010. "Innovation, Firm Dynamics, and International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(3), pages 433-484, June.
    3. Gil, Pedro Mazeda, 2010. "Stylised facts and other empirical evidence on firm dynamics, business cycle and growth," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 73-80, June.

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