IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Missing "Missing Middle"

  • Chang-Tai Hsieh
  • Benjamin A. Olken

Although a large literature seeks to explain the "missing middle" of mid-sized firms in developing countries, there is surprisingly little empirical backing for existence of the missing middle. Using microdata on the full distribution of both formal and informal sector manufacturing firms in India, Indonesia, and Mexico, we document three facts. First, while there are a very large number of small firms, there is no "missing middle" in the sense of a bimodal distribution: mid-sized firms are missing, but large firms are missing too, and the fraction of firms of a given size is smoothly declining in firm size. Second, we show that the distribution of average products of capital and labor is unimodal, and that large firms, not small firms, have higher average products. This is inconsistent with many models in which small firms with high returns are constrained from expanding. Third, we examine regulatory and tax notches in India, Indonesia, and Mexico of the sort often thought to discourage firm growth, and find no economically meaningful bunching of firms near the notch points. We show that existing beliefs about the missing middle are largely due to arbitrary transformations that were made to the data in previous studies.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19966.pdf
Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at http://www.nber.org/wwphelp.html. Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19966.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Chang-Tai Hsieh & Benjamin A. Olken, 2014. "The Missing "Missing Middle"," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 89-108, Summer.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19966
Note: DEV EFG PE PR
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Schivardi, Fabiano & Torrini, Roberto, 2005. "Identifying the Effects of Firing Restrictions Through Size-Contingent Differences in Regulation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5303, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. James Tybout, 1999. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Development and Comp Systems 9906001, EconWPA, revised 10 Jun 1999.
  3. Luis Garicano & Claire Lelarge & John Van Reenen, 2012. "Firm Size Distortions and the Productivity Distribution: Evidence from France," CEP Discussion Papers dp1128, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2004. "Can Labor Regulation Hinder Economic Performance? Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 91-134, February.
  5. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2014. "The Life Cycle of Plants in India and Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1035-1084.
  6. Henrik J. Kleven & Mazhar Waseem, 2013. "Using Notches to Uncover Optimization Frictions and Structural Elasticities: Theory and Evidence from Pakistan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 669-723.
  7. De Loecker, Jan & Warzynski, Frederic, 2009. "Markups and Firm-level Export Status," CEPR Discussion Papers 7450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Kazuki Onji, 2008. "The Response of Firms to Eligibility Thresholds : Evidence from the Japanese Value-Added Tax," Finance Working Papers 21965, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  9. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1329-1372, November.
  10. Christopher Udry & Santosh Anagol, 2006. "The Return to Capital in Ghana," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 388-393, May.
  11. Claudia Sánchez-Vela & Jorge N. Valero-Gil, 2011. "The Effect of Firm-Size Dependent Policies on the Economy: The Case of the Repecos Law in Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 80642, Inter-American Development Bank.
  12. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19966. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.