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How Destructive is Innovation?

Listed author(s):
  • Daniel Garcia-Macia
  • Chang-Tai Hsieh
  • Peter J. Klenow

Entrants and incumbents can create new products and displace the products of competitors. Incumbents can also improve their existing products. How much of aggregate productivity growth occurs through each of these channels? Using data from the U.S. Longitudinal Business Database on all non-farm private businesses from 1976–1986 and 2003–2013, we arrive at three main conclusions: First, most growth appears to come from incumbents. We infer this from the modest employment share of entering firms (defined as those less than 5 years old). Second, most growth seems to occur through improvements of existing varieties rather than creation of brand new varieties. Third, own-product improvements by incumbents appear to be more important than creative destruction. We infer this because the distribution of job creation and destruction has thinner tails than implied by a model with a dominant role for creative destruction.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 22953.

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Date of creation: Dec 2016
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22953
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  1. John C. Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2010. "Who Creates Jobs? Small vs. Large vs. Young," NBER Working Papers 16300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ryan Decker & John Haltiwanger & Ron Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2014. "The Role of Entrepreneurship in US Job Creation and Economic Dynamism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 3-24, Summer.
  3. Colin J. Hottman & Stephen J. Redding & David E. Weinstein, 2016. "Quantifying the Sources of Firm Heterogeneity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(3), pages 1291-1364.
  4. Gordon, Robert J., 2007. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226304601, April.
  5. John Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2013. "Who Creates Jobs? Small versus Large versus Young," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 347-361, May.
  6. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, January.
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