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Estimating Lost Output from Allocative Inefficiency, with an Application to Chile and Firing Costs

  • Amil Petrin
  • Jagadeesh Sivadasan

We propose a new measure of allocative efficiency based on unrealized increases in aggregate productivity growth. We show that the difference in the value of the marginal product of an input and its marginal cost at any plant - the plant-input "gap" - is exactly equal to the change in aggregate output that would occur if that plant changed that input's use by one unit. The mean absolute gap across plants for any input can then be interpreted as an approximation to the gain to society that would occur if every plant had a one-unit change in that input in the efficient direction, holding everything else constant. We show how to estimate this average gap using plant-level data for 1982-1994 from Chilean manufacturing, a sector largely viewed as being one of South America's least distorted. We find the gaps for blue and white collar labor are quite large in absolute value and imply that a one-unit move in the correct direction for blue collar would increase aggregate value added by almost 0.5%. We also find that the gaps for blue and white collar workers are increasing over time while the gaps for materials and electricity are not. The timing of the two separate increases in firing costs and the sharpest increases in the labor gaps is suggestive that the increases in average within-firm labor gaps may be related to the increases in severance pay.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17373.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Amil Petrin & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2013. "Estimating Lost Output from Allocative Inefficiency, with an Application to Chile and Firing Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 286-301, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17373
Note: IO LS PR
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  1. Jagadeesh Sivadasan & Amil Petrin, 2007. "Job Security Does Affect Economic Efficiency, Theory, A New Statistic, and Evidence from Chile," 2007 Meeting Papers 183, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. John M. Abowd & Bryce E. Stephens & Lars Vilhuber & Fredrik Andersson & Kevin L. McKinney & Marc Roemer & Simon Woodcock, 2002. "The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Alvarez, Fernando & Veracierto, Marcelo, 2001. "Severance payments in an economy with frictions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 477-498, June.
  4. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
  5. Bond, Stephen & Van Reenen, John, 2007. "Microeconometric Models of Investment and Employment," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 65 Elsevier.
  6. Reyes, Gonzalo & van Ours, Jan C & Vodopivec, Milan, 2010. "Incentive Effects of Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts: Evidence from Chile," CEPR Discussion Papers 7632, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Sebastian Edwards & Alejandra Cox Edwards, 2000. "Economic reforms and labour markets: policy issues and lessons from Chile," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 181-230, 04.
  8. 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.
  9. James J. Heckman & Carmen Pag├ęs, 2004. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number heck04-1, July.
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