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Measuring Aggregate Productivity Growth Using Plant-Level Data

Author

Listed:
  • Amil Petrin

    (University of Chicago)

  • James Levinsohn

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

We define productivity growth as the change in welfare that arises from additional output holding primary inputs constant. Using this traditional growth-accounting definition, we show that gains may arise because of plant-level technology shocks, and, in imperfectly competitive settings, from the reallocation of inputs across plants with differing markups and/or shadow values of primary inputs. With plant-level data, the alternative and most popular definition of productivity growth looks at the difference in the first moments of the productivity distribution. We show that this definition adds an additional term to the growth-accounting measure, which has been called “reallocation.” We show there is a very weak relationship between the two indexes in almost every 3-digit manufacturing industry in both Chile from 1987-1996 and Colombia from 1981-1991 - 49 in total - primarily because this “reallocation” term is large and volatile. We explore the theoretical reasons for this sharp divergence, in the process uncovering a number of previously unnoticed and unattractive features of the first-moment definition. For example, it is not tethered to any theoretical model, it is sensitive to measured units, and it can report positive productivity growth when welfare has fallen.

Suggested Citation

  • Amil Petrin & James Levinsohn, 2005. "Measuring Aggregate Productivity Growth Using Plant-Level Data," Working Papers 552, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:mie:wpaper:552
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano Federico & Gaetano Alfredo Minerva, 2008. "Outward FDI and Local Employment Growth in Italy," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), pages 295-324.
    2. Amil Petrin & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2006. "Job Security Does Affect Economic Efficiency: Theory, A New Statistic, and Evidence from Chile," NBER Working Papers 12757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 326-365.
    4. Marc J. Melitz & Sašo Polanec, 2015. "Dynamic Olley-Pakes productivity decomposition with entry and exit," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 362-375, June.
    5. Simon P. Anderson & Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 2002. "The Logit Equilibrium: A Perspective on Intuitive Behavioral Anomalies," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 21-47, July.
    6. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 326-365.
    7. Robert Breunig & Marn-Heong Wong, 2008. "A Richer Understanding of Australia's Productivity Performance in the 1990s: Improved Estimates Based Upon Firm-Level Panel Data," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, pages 157-176.
    8. Hulten, Charles R., 2010. "Growth Accounting," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    9. 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, pages 87-127.
    10. Shuyun Li, 2011. "Costly external finance, reallocation, and aggregate productivity," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, pages 181-195.

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    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General

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