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From Population Growth to Firm Demographics: Implications for Concentration, Entrepreneurship and the Labor Share

Author

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  • Hugo Hopenhayn
  • Julian Neira
  • Rish Singhania

Abstract

The US economy has undergone a number of puzzling changes in recent decades. Large firms now account for a greater share of economic activity, new firms are being created at a slower rate, and workers are getting paid a smaller share of GDP. This paper shows that changes in population growth provide a unified quantitative explanation for these long-term changes. The mechanism goes through firm entry rates. A decrease in population growth lowers firm entry rates, shifting the firm-age distribution towards older firms. Heterogeneity across firm age groups combined with an aging firm distribution replicates the observed trends. Micro data show that an aging firm distribution fully explains i) the concentration of employment in large firms, ii) and trends in average firm size and exit rates, key determinants of the firm entry rate. An aging firm distribution also explains the decline in labor’s share of GDP. In our model, older firms have lower labor shares because of lower overhead labor to employment ratios. Consistent with our mechanism, we find that the ratio of nonproduction workers to total employment has declined in the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Hugo Hopenhayn & Julian Neira & Rish Singhania, 2018. "From Population Growth to Firm Demographics: Implications for Concentration, Entrepreneurship and the Labor Share," NBER Working Papers 25382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25382
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    Cited by:

    1. Naudé, Wim, 2019. "The Race against the Robots and the Fallacy of the Giant Cheesecake: Immediate and Imagined Impacts of Artificial Intelligence," IZA Discussion Papers 12218, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Akcigit, Ufuk & Ates, Sina T., 2019. "What Happened to U.S. Business Dynamism?," CEPR Discussion Papers 13669, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Becker, Bo & Ivashina, Victoria, 2019. "Disruption and Credit Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 13508, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Fatih Karahan & Benjamin Pugsley & Ayşegül Şahin, 2019. "Demographic Origins of the Startup Deficit," NBER Working Papers 25874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Naudé, Wim, 2019. "The decline in entrepreneurship in the West: Is complexity ossifying the economy?," MERIT Working Papers 030, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    6. Ufuk Akcigit & Sina T. Ates, 2019. "Ten Facts on Declining Business Dynamism and Lessons from Endogenous Growth Theory," NBER Working Papers 25755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2019. "The Industrial Revolution in Services," CEPR Discussion Papers 13797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Guimarães, Luis & Gil, Pedro, 2019. "Explaining the labor share: automation vs labor market institutions," MPRA Paper 92062, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Pedro Bento & Diego Restuccia, 2019. "The Role of Nonemployers in Business Dynamism and Aggregate Productivity," NBER Working Papers 25998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:cpr:ceprdp:14094 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Satyajit Chatterjee & Burcu Eyigungor, 2019. "The Firm Size and Leverage Relationship and Its Implications for Entry and Concentration in a Low Interest Rate World," 2019 Meeting Papers 1041, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. Ufuk Akcigit & Sina T. Ates, 2019. "What Happened to U.S. Business Dynamism?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7854, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship

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