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What Happened to U.S. Business Dynamism?

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  • Ufuk Akcigit
  • Sina T. Ates

Abstract

In the past several decades, the U.S. economy has witnessed a number of striking trends that indicate a rising market concentration and a slowdown in business dynamism. In this paper, we make an attempt to understand potential common forces behind these empirical regularities through the lens of a micro-founded general equilibrium model of endogenous firm dynamics. Importantly, the theoretical model captures the strategic behavior between competing firms, its effect on their innovation decisions, and the resulting “best versus the rest” dynamics. We focus on multiple potential mechanisms that can potentially drive the observed changes and use the calibrated model to assess the relative importance of these channels with particular attention to the implied transitional dynamics. Our results highlight the dominant role of a decline in the intensity of knowledge diffusion from the frontier firms to the laggard ones in explaining the observed shifts. We conclude by presenting new evidence that corroborates a declining knowledge diffusion in the economy. We document a higher concentration of patenting in the hands of firms with the largest stock and a changing nature of patents, especially in the post-2000 period, which suggests a heavy use of intellectual property protection by market leaders to limit the diffusion of knowledge. These findings present a potential avenue for future research on the drivers of declining knowledge diffusion.

Suggested Citation

  • Ufuk Akcigit & Sina T. Ates, 2019. "What Happened to U.S. Business Dynamism?," NBER Working Papers 25756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25756
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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