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Does Input Quality Drive Measured Differences in Firm Productivity?

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  • Jeremy T. Fox
  • Valérie Smeets

Abstract

Firms in the same industry can differ in measured productivity by multiples of 3. Griliches (1957) suggests one explanation: the quality of inputs differs across firms. We add labor market history variables such as experience and firm and industry tenure, as well as general human capital measures such as schooling and sex. We also use the wage bill and worker fixed effects. We show adding human capital variables and the wage bill decreases the ratio of the 90th to 10th productivity quantiles from 3.27 to 2.68 across eight Danish manufacturing and service industries. The productivity dispersion decrease is roughly of the same order of magnitude as some competitive effects found in the literature, but input quality measures do not explain most productivity dispersion, despite economically large production function coefficients. We find that the wage bill explains as much dispersion as human capital measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy T. Fox & Valérie Smeets, 2011. "Does Input Quality Drive Measured Differences in Firm Productivity?," NBER Working Papers 16853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16853
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    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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