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Cross-Country Differences in Productivity: The Role of Allocation and Selection

Author

Listed:
  • Bartelsman, Eric

    () (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • Haltiwanger, John C.

    () (University of Maryland)

  • Scarpetta, Stefano

    () (OECD)

Abstract

This paper combines different strands of the productivity literature to investigate the effect of idiosyncratic (firm-level) policy distortions on aggregate outcomes. On the one hand, a growing body of empirical research has been relating cross-country differences in key economic outcomes, such as productivity or output per capita, to differences in policies and institutions that shape the business environment. On the other hand, a branch of empirical research has attempted to shed light on the determinants of productivity at the firm-level and the evolution of the distribution of productivity across firms within each industry. In this paper, we exploit a rich source of data with harmonized statistics on firm level variation within industries for a number of countries. Our key empirical finding is that there is substantial variation in the within-industry covariance between size and productivity across countries, and this variation is affected by the presence of idiosyncratic distortions. We develop a model in which heterogeneous firms face adjustment frictions (overhead labor and quasi-fixed capital) and idiosyncratic distortions. We show that the model can be readily calibrated to match the observed cross-country patterns of the within-industry covariance between productivity and size and thus help to explain the observed differences in aggregate performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Bartelsman, Eric & Haltiwanger, John C. & Scarpetta, Stefano, 2009. "Cross-Country Differences in Productivity: The Role of Allocation and Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 4578, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4578
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    firm heterogeneity; productivity; allocation of resources; distortions;

    JEL classification:

    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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