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Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?

  • Foster, Lucia


    (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Haltiwanger, John C.


    (University of Maryland)

  • Syverson, Chad


    (University of Chicago)

There is considerable evidence that producer-level churning contributes substantially to aggregate (industry) productivity growth, as more productive businesses displace less productive ones. However, this research has been limited by the fact that producer-level prices are typically unobserved; thus within-industry price differences are embodied in productivity measures. If prices reflect idiosyncratic demand or market power shifts, high "productivity" businesses may not be particularly efficient, and the literature's findings might be better interpreted as evidence of entering businesses displacing less profitable, but not necessarily less productive, exiting businesses. In this paper, we investigate the nature of selection and productivity growth using data from industries where we observe producer-level quantities and prices separately. We show there are important differences between revenue and physical productivity. A key dissimilarity is that physical productivity is inversely correlated with plant-level prices while revenue productivity is positively correlated with prices. This implies that previous work linking (revenue-based) productivity to survival has confounded the separate and opposing effects of technical efficiency and demand on survival, understating the true impacts of both. We further show that young producers charge lower prices than incumbents, and as such the literature understates the productivity advantage of new producers and the contribution of entry to aggregate productivity growth.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1705.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review, 2008, 98 (1), 394-425
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1705
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  1. Eslava, Marcela & Haltiwanger, John & Kugler, Adriana & Kugler, Maurice, 2004. "The effects of structural reforms on productivity and profitabality enhancing reallocation: evidence from Colombia," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0408, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  2. John Haltiwanger & C J Krizan & Lucia Foster, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons From Microeconomic Evidence," Working Papers 98-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. 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.
  4. Klette, Tor Jakob & Griliches, Zvi, 1996. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators When Output Prices Are Unobserved and Endogenous," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 343-61, July-Aug..
  5. John Shea, 1996. "Instrument Relevance in Multivariate Linear Models: A Simple Measure," NBER Technical Working Papers 0193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. C.J. Krizan & John Haltiwanger & Lucia Foster, 2002. "The Link Between Aggregate and Micro Productivity Growth: Evidence from Retail Trade," Working Papers 02-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. repec:oup:restud:v:62:y:1995:i:1:p:53-82 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Prices, Spatial Competition, and Heterogeneous Producers: An Empirical Test," Working Papers 04-16, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  11. Chad Syverson, 2001. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Working Papers 01-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  12. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Roberts, Mark J. & Supina, Dylan, 1996. "Output price, markups, and producer size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 909-921, April.
  14. Mark Doms & Eric J. Bartelsman, 2000. "Understanding Productivity: Lessons from Longitudinal Microdata," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 569-594, September.
  15. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
  16. Jacques Mairesse & Jordi Jaumandreu, 2005. "Panel-data Estimates of the Production Function and the Revenue Function: What Difference Does It Make?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(4), pages 651-672, December.
  17. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2007. "ROBUSTNESS OF PRODUCTIVITY ESTIMATES -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 529-569, 09.
  18. Guido Fioretti, 2005. "The Production Function," Papers physics/0511191,
  19. Haijime Katayama & Shihua Lu & James Tybout, 2003. "Why Plant-Level Productivity Studies are Often Misleading, and an Alternative Approach to Interference," NBER Working Papers 9617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Timothy Dunne & Mark J Roberts, 1992. "Costs, Demand, and Imperfect Competition as Determinants of Plant_level Output Prices," Working Papers 92-5, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  21. Dunne, T. & Roberts, M.J. & Samuelson, L., 1988. "Pattenrs Of Firm Entry And Exit In U.S. Manufacturing Industries," Papers 1-88-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  22. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  23. Thomas A Abbott III, 1992. "Price Dispersion In U.S. Manufacturing: Implications For The Aggregation Of Products And Firms," Working Papers 92-3, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  24. Aw, Bee Yan & Chen, Xiaomin & Roberts, Mark J., 2001. "Firm-level evidence on productivity differentials and turnover in Taiwanese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 51-86, October.
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