Productivity, welfare and reallocation : theory and firm-level evidence
A considerable literature has focused on the determinants of total factor productivity (TFP), prompted by the empirical finding that TFP accounts for the bulk of long-term growth. This paper offers a deeper reason for such focus: the welfare of a representative consumer is summarized by current and anticipated future Solow productivity residuals. The equivalence holds for any specification of technology and market structure, as long as the representative household maximizes utility while taking prices parametrically. This result justifies total factor productivity as the right summary measure of welfare, even in situations where it does not properly measure technology, and makes it possible to calculate the contributions of disaggregated units (industries or firms) to aggregate welfare using readily available data. Based on this finding, the authors compute firm and industry contributions to welfare for a set of European countries (Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain) using industry-level and firm-level data. With additional assumptions about technology and market structure (specifically, that firms minimize costs and face common factor prices), the authors show that welfare change can be further decomposed into three components that reflect, respectively, technical change, aggregate distortions, and allocative efficiency. Then, using the appropriate firm-level data, they assess the importance of each of these components as sources of welfare improvement in the same set of European countries.
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- Martin L. Weitzman, 1976.
"On the Welfare Significance of National Product in a Dynamic Economy,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 90(1), pages 156-162.
- M. L. Weitzman, 1974. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in Dynamic Economy," Working papers 125, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Amil Petrin & Jerome Reiter & Kirk White, 2011. "The Impact of Plant-level Resource Reallocations and Technical Progress on U.S. Macroeconomic Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(1), pages 3-26, January.
- Amil Petrin & T. Kirk White & Jerome P. Reiter, 2009. "The Impact of Plant-Level Resource Reallocations and Technical Progress on U.S. Macroeconomic Growth," Working Papers 09-43, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- Amil Petrin & T. Kirk White & Jerome P. Reiter, 2011. "The Impact of Plant-level Resource Reallocations and Technical Progress on U.S. Macroeconomic Growth," NBER Working Papers 16700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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