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Productivity Volatility and the Misallocation of Resources in Developing Economies

  • Allan Collard-Wexler
  • John Asker
  • Jan De Loecker

We investigate the role of dynamic production inputs and their associated adjustment costs in shaping the dispersion of total factor productivity (TFP) and static measures of capital misallocation within a country. Using data on 5,010 establishments in 33 developing countries from the World Bank’s Enterprise Research Data, we find that countries exhibiting greater time-series volatility of productivity are also characterized by greater cross-sectional dispersion in productivity. Volatility in TFP explains one quarter to one third of cross-country productivity dispersion. We document a similar relationship between productivity volatility and the dispersion of the marginal revenue product of capital (static capital misallocation). We then use a standard model of investment with adjustment costs, parameterized using numbers calibrated to U.S. data, to show that increasing the volatility of productivity to the level observed in these developing economies can quantitatively replicate the observed relationship between static misallocation and volatility observed in the data. We find that sixty-one percent of the static capital misallocation in the data is captured by the model’s prediction. Our findings suggest that the dynamic process governing productivity shocks is a first-order determinant of differences in misallocation and, hence, income across countries.

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Paper provided by New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 11-13.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:11-13
Contact details of provider: Postal: New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1126
Phone: (212) 998-0860
Fax: (212) 995-4218
Web page: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/economics/

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  1. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," NBER Working Papers 11555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. De Loecker, Jan & Warzynski, Frederic, 2009. "Markups and Firm-level Export Status," CEPR Discussion Papers 7450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Bartelsman, Eric & Haltiwanger, John C. & Scarpetta, Stefano, 2009. "Cross-Country Differences in Productivity: The Role of Allocation and Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 4578, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter Klenow, 2009. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," Working Papers 09-04, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  5. Russell W. Cooper & John C. Haltiwanger, 2006. "On the Nature of Capital Adjustment Costs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 611-633.
  6. Richard Rogerson & Diego Restuccia, 2004. "Policy Distortions and Aggregate Productivity with Heterogeneous Plants," 2004 Meeting Papers 69, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Allan Collard-Wexler, 2010. "Productivity Dispersion and Plant Selection in the Ready-Mix Concrete Industry," 2010 Meeting Papers 105, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Mark Doms & Eric J. Bartelsman, 2000. "Understanding Productivity: Lessons from Longitudinal Microdata," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 569-594, September.
  10. Jan De Loecker, 2004. "Do Exports Generate Higher Productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," LICOS Discussion Papers 15104, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  11. George S Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics Of Productivity In The Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Working Papers 92-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  12. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Pindyck, Robert S., 1992. "Uncertainty, investment, and industry evolution," Working papers 3460-92., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  13. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
  14. Pinelopi Goldberg & Amit Khandelwal & Nina Pavcnik & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Trade Liberalization and New Imported Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 494-500, May.
  15. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341, 04.
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