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Productivity, Welfare and Reallocation: Theory and Firm-Level Evidence


  • Basu, Susanto

    () (Boston College)

  • Pascali, Luigi

    () (Pompeu Fabra University)

  • Schiantarelli, Fabio

    () (Boston College)

  • Serven, Luis

    () (World Bank)


We prove that the change in welfare of a representative consumer is summarized by the current and expected future values of the standard Solow productivity residual. The equivalence holds if the representative household maximizes utility while taking prices parametrically. This result justifies TFP as the right summary measure of welfare (even in situations where it does not properly measure technology) and makes it possible to calculate the contributions of disaggregated units (industries or firms) to aggregate welfare using readily available TFP data. Based on this finding, we compute firm and industry contributions to welfare for a set of European OECD countries (Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain), using industry-level (EU-KLEMS) and firm-level (Amadeus) data. After adding further assumptions about technology and market structure (firms minimize costs and face common factor prices), we show that welfare change can be decomposed into three components that reflect respectively technical change, aggregate distortions and allocative efficiency. Then, using the appropriate firm-level data, we assess the importance of each of these components as sources of welfare improvement in the same set of European countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Basu, Susanto & Pascali, Luigi & Schiantarelli, Fabio & Serven, Luis, 2009. "Productivity, Welfare and Reallocation: Theory and Firm-Level Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 4612, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4612

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin L. Weitzman, 1976. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in a Dynamic Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(1), pages 156-162.
    2. Amil Petrin & Jerome Reiter & Kirk White, 2011. "The Impact of Plant-level Resource Reallocations and Technical Progress on U.S. Macroeconomic Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(1), pages 3-26, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Susanto Basu & Luigi Pascali & Fabio Schiantarelli & Luis Serven, 2012. "Productivity and the Welfare of Nations," NBER Working Papers 17971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jae Sim & Egon Zakrajsek & Simon Gilchrist, 2010. "Uncertainty, Financial Frictions, and Investment Dynamics," 2010 Meeting Papers 1285, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Eric J. Bartelsman & Zoltan Wolf, 2017. "Measuring Productivity Dispersion," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-033/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 326-365, June.
    5. Weinberger, Ariel, 2015. "Markups and misallocation with trade and heterogeneous firms," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 251, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    6. Biewen, Martin & Weiser, Constantin, 2011. "A New Approach to Testing Marginal Productivity Theory," IZA Discussion Papers 6113, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Albert Bollard & Peter Klenow & Gunjam Sharma, 2013. "India's Mysterious Manufacturing Miracle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(1), pages 59-85, January.
    8. John R. Baldwin & Wulong Gu & Beiling Yan, 2013. "Export Growth, Capacity Utilization, and Productivity Growth: Evidence from the Canadian Manufacturing Plants," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59(4), pages 665-688, December.
    9. Sophie Osotimehin, 2013. "Aggregate productivity and the allocation of resources over the business cycle," Virginia Economics Online Papers 404, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
    10. Koetter, Michael, 2013. "Market structure and competition in German banking: Modules I and IV," Working Papers 06/2013, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
    11. Albert Bollard & Peter Klenow & Gunjam Sharma, 2013. "India's Mysterious Manufacturing Miracle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(1), pages 59-85, January.
    12. Michel Dumont, 2011. "Working Paper 11-11 - A decomposition of industry-level productivity growth in Belgium using firm-level data," Working Papers 1111, Federal Planning Bureau, Belgium.
    13. Daniel Gonçalves & Ana Martins, 2016. "The Determinants of TFP Growth in the Portuguese Manufacturing Sector," GEE Papers 0062, Gabinete de Estratégia e Estudos, Ministério da Economia, revised Nov 2016.
    14. Lucia S. Foster & Cheryl A. Grim & John Haltiwanger & Zoltan Wolf, 2017. "Macro and Micro Dynamics of Productivity: From Devilish Details to Insights," Working Papers 17-41r, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    15. Charles I. Jones & Peter J. Klenow, 2016. "Beyond GDP? Welfare across Countries and Time," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(9), pages 2426-2457, September.
    16. Guido Sandleris & Mark L. J. Wright, 2014. "The Costs of Financial Crises: Resource Misallocation, Productivity, and Welfare in the 2001 Argentine Crisis," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(1), pages 87-127, January.
    17. Susanto Basu & Luigi Pascali & Fabio Schiantarelli & Luis Serven, 2012. "Productivity and the Welfare of Nations," Working Papers 621, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    18. Ezra Oberfield, 2011. "Productivity and Misallocation During a Crisis," 2011 Meeting Papers 1328, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Inklaar, Robert & Koetter, Michael & Noth, Felix, 2015. "Bank market power, factor reallocation, and aggregate growth," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 31-44.

    More about this item


    productivity; welfare; reallocation; technology; TFP;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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