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Reallocation and Technology: Evidence from the U.S. Steel Industry

  • Allan Collard-Wexler
  • Jan De Loecker

We measure the impact of a drastic new technology for producing steel - the minimill - on the aggregate productivity of U.S. steel producers, using unique plant-level data between 1963 and 2002. We find that the sharp increase in the industry's productivity is linked to this new technology, and operates through two distinct mechanisms. First, minimills displaced the older technology, called vertically integrated production, and this reallocation of output was responsible for a third of the increase in the industry's productivity. Second, increased competition, due to the expansion of minimills, drove a substantial reallocation process within the group of vertically integrated producers, driving a resurgence in their productivity, and consequently of the industry's productivity as a whole.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18739.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Publication status: published as Allan Collard-Wexler & Jan De Loecker, 2015. "Reallocation and Technology: Evidence from the US Steel Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 131-71, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18739
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  1. Edmond, Chris & Midrigan, Virgiliu & Xu, Daniel Yi, 2013. "Competition, Markups, and the Gains from International Trade," Economics Series 299, Institute for Advanced Studies.
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  13. James A. Schmitz Jr., 2005. "What Determines Productivity? Lessons from the Dramatic Recovery of the U.S. and Canadian Iron Ore Industries Following Their Early 1980s Crisis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 582-625, June.
  14. Ackerberg, Daniel & Caves, Kevin & Frazer, Garth, 2006. "Structural identification of production functions," MPRA Paper 38349, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Chad Syverson, 2011. "What Determines Productivity?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(2), pages 326-65, June.
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  17. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
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