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Defending Gibrat’s Law as a Long-Run Regularity

Author

Listed:
  • Lotti, Francesca

    (Bank of Italy)

  • Santarelli, Enrico

    (University of Bologna)

  • Vivarelli, Marco

    (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

Abstract

According to Gibrat’s Law of Proportionate Effect, the growth rate of a given firm is independent of its size at the beginning of the period examined. While earlier studies tended to confirm the Law, more recent research generally rejects it. This paper reconciles these two streams of literature, taking into account the role of market selection and learning in reshaping a given population of firms through time. Consistently with previous studies, we found that Gibrat’s Law has to be rejected ex ante, since smaller firms tend to grow faster than their larger counterparts. However, a significant convergence towards Gibrat-like behavior can be detected ex post. This finding is an indication that market selection “cleans” the original population of firms, so that the resulting industrial “core” does not depart from a Gibrat-like pattern of growth. From a theoretical point of view, this result is consistent with those models based on passive and active learning, and can be seen as a defense of the validity of the Law in the long-run.

Suggested Citation

  • Lotti, Francesca & Santarelli, Enrico & Vivarelli, Marco, 2007. "Defending Gibrat’s Law as a Long-Run Regularity," IZA Discussion Papers 2744, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2744
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-748, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    firm growth; firm survival; firm age; firm size; Gibrat’s Law;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship

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