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Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?

  • Lucia Foster
  • John Haltiwanger
  • Chad Syverson

There is considerable evidence that producer-level churning contributes substantially to aggregate (industry) productivity growth, as more productive businesses displace less productive ones. However, this research has been limited by the fact that producer-level prices are typically unobserved; thus within-industry price differences are embodied in productivity measures. If prices reflect idiosyncratic demand or market power shifts, high "productivity" businesses may not be particularly efficient, and the literature's findings might be better interpreted as evidence of entering businesses displacing less profitable, but not necessarily less productive, exiting businesses. In this paper, we investigate the nature of selection and productivity growth using data from industries where we observe producer-level quantities and prices separately. We show there are important differences between revenue and physical productivity. A key dissimilarity is that physical productivity is inversely correlated with plant-level prices while revenue productivity is positively correlated with prices. This implies that previous work linking (revenue-based) productivity to survival has confounded the separate and opposing effects of technical efficiency and demand on survival, understating the true impacts of both. We further show that young producers charge lower prices than incumbents, and as such the literature understates the productivity advantage of new producers and the contribution of entry to aggregate productivity growth.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11555.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
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Publication status: published as Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2008. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 394-425, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11555
Note: EFG PR
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  1. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  3. Eslava, Marcela & Haltiwanger Jr, John C & Kugler, Adriana D. & Kugler, Maurice, 2004. "The Effects of Structural Reforms on Productivity- and Profitability-Enhancing Reallocation: Evidence from Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 4569, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  5. John Haltiwanger & C J Krizan & Lucia Foster, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons From Microeconomic Evidence," Working Papers 98-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2004. "Robustness of Productivity Estimates," NBER Working Papers 10303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jacques Mairesse & Jordi Jaumandreu, 2005. "Panel-data Estimates of the Production Function and the Revenue Function: What Difference Does It Make?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(4), pages 651-672, December.
  8. Klette, T.J., 1992. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators when Output Prices are unobserved and Endogenous," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1586, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. George S Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics Of Productivity In The Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Working Papers 92-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Ericson, Richard & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82, January.
  11. John Shea, 1997. "Instrument Relevance in Multivariate Linear Models: A Simple Measure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 348-352, May.
  12. Timothy Dunne & Mark J Roberts, 1992. "Costs, Demand, and Imperfect Competition as Determinants of Plant_level Output Prices," Working Papers 92-5, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  13. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1181-1222, December.
  14. Roberts, Mark J. & Supina, Dylan, 1996. "Output price, markups, and producer size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 909-921, April.
  15. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Thomas A Abbott III, 1992. "Price Dispersion In U.S. Manufacturing: Implications For The Aggregation Of Products And Firms," Working Papers 92-3, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  18. Dunne, T. & Roberts, M.J. & Samuelson, L., 1988. "Pattenrs Of Firm Entry And Exit In U.S. Manufacturing Industries," Papers 1-88-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  19. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Prices, Spatial Competition, and Heterogeneous Producers: An Empirical Test," Working Papers 04-16, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  20. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C.J. Krizan, 2002. "The Link Between Aggregate and Micro Productivity Growth: Evidence from Retail Trade," NBER Working Papers 9120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
  22. Haijime Katayama & Shihua Lu & James Tybout, 2003. "Why Plant-Level Productivity Studies are Often Misleading, and an Alternative Approach to Interference," NBER Working Papers 9617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Guido Fioretti, 2005. "The Production Function," Papers physics/0511191, arXiv.org.
  25. Aw, Bee Yan & Chen, Xiaomin & Roberts, Mark J., 2001. "Firm-level evidence on productivity differentials and turnover in Taiwanese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 51-86, October.
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