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Measuring Aggregate Productivity Growth Using Plant-Level Data

  • Amil Petrin

    (University of Chicago)

  • James Levinsohn

    (University of Michigan)

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.

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File URL: http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/workingpapers/Papers551-575/r552.pdf
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Paper provided by Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan in its series Working Papers with number 552.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mie:wpaper:552
Contact details of provider: Postal: ANN ARBOR MICHIGAN 48109
Web page: http://fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/

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  1. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C.J. Krizan, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons from Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," NBER Working Papers 4917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 1999. "When Industries Become More Productive, Do Firms?," NBER Working Papers 6893, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeffrey Campbell, 1998. "Entry, Exit, Embodied Technology, and Business Cycles," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(2), pages 371-408, April.
  6. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Austan Goolsbee & Amil Petrin, 2004. "The Consumer Gains from Direct Broadcast Satellites and the Competition with Cable TV," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 351-381, 03.
  8. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1997. "Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology," International Finance Discussion Papers 593, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2008. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," NBER Working Papers 14610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Berndt, Ernst R. & Fuss, Melvyn A., 1986. "Productivity measurement with adjustments for variations in capacity utilization and other forms of temporary equilibrium," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1-2), pages 7-29.
  11. Trivedi, P K, 1981. "Some Discrete Approximations to Divisia Integral Indices," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(1), pages 71-77, February.
  12. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1990. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," DELTA Working Papers 90-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  13. Hulten, Charles R, 1973. "Divisia Index Numbers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(6), pages 1017-25, November.
  14. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341, 04.
  15. 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.
  16. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Amil Petrin, 2002. "Quantifying the Benefits of New Products: The Case of the Minivan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 705-729, August.
  18. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1996. "On the Timing and Efficiency of Creative Destruction," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 805-52, August.
  19. Star, Spencer & Hall, Robert E, 1976. "An Approximate Divisia Index of Total Factor Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 257-63, March.
  20. Hulten, Charles R, 1978. "Growth Accounting with Intermediate Inputs," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 511-18, October.
  21. Bert M. Balk, 2005. "Divisia price and quantity indices: 80 years after," Statistica Neerlandica, Netherlands Society for Statistics and Operations Research, vol. 59(2), pages 119-158.
  22. Charles R. Hulten, 2001. "Total Factor Productivity: A Short Biography," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Analysis, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  24. Levinsohn, James, 1999. "Employment responses to international liberalization in Chile," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 321-344, April.
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