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A Theoretical Foundation for Understanding Firm Size Distributions and Gibrat's Law

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  • Christopher A Laincz
  • Ana Sofia Domingues Rodrigues

Abstract

This paper presents a dynamic model of the firm size distribution. Empirical studies of the firm size distribution often compare the moments to a log-normal distribution as implied by Gibrat's Law and note important deviations. Thus, the first, and basic questions we ask are how well does the dynamic industry model reproduce Gibrat's Law and how well does it match the deviations uncovered in the literature. We show that the model reproduces these results when testing the simulated output using the techniques of the empirical literature. We then use the model to study how structural parameters affect the firm size distribution. We find that, among other things, fixed and sunk costs increase both the mean and variance of the firm size distribution while generally decreasing the skewness and kurtosis. The rate of growth in an industry also raises the mean and variance, but has non-monotonic effects on the higher moments.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher A Laincz & Ana Sofia Domingues Rodrigues, "undated". "A Theoretical Foundation for Understanding Firm Size Distributions and Gibrat's Law," Discussion Papers 05/34, Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:05/34
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Francesca Lotti & Enrico Santarelli, 2004. "Industry Dynamics and the Distribution of Firm Sizes: A Nonparametric Approach," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 443-466, January.
    2. Evans, David S, 1987. "The Relationship between Firm Growth, Size, and Age: Estimates for 100 Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 567-581, June.
    3. Francesca Lotti & Enrico Santarelli, 2001. "Industry Dynamics and the Distribution of Firm Sizes: A Non-Parametric Approach," LEM Papers Series 2001/14, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    4. Richard Ericson & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82.
    5. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-670, May.
    6. Giulio Bottazzi & Elena Cefis & Giovanni Dosi & Angelo Secchi, 2003. "Invariances and Diversities in the Evolution of Manufacturing Industries," LEM Papers Series 2003/21, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    7. D.B. Audretsch & L. Klomp & E. Santarelli & A.R. Thurik, 2004. "Gibrat's Law: Are the Services Different?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 24(3), pages 301-324, May.
    8. Mansfield, Edwin, 1985. "How Rapidly Does New Industrial Technology Leak Out?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 217-223, December.
    9. McCloughan, Patrick, 1995. "Simulation of Concentration Development from Modified Gibrat Growth-Entry-Exit Processes," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 405-433, December.
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    12. Hart, Peter E & Oulton, Nicholas, 1996. "Growth and Size of Firms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1242-1252, September.
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    15. Jose A. F. Machado & Jose Mata, 2000. "Box-Cox quantile regression and the distribution of firm sizes," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(3), pages 253-274.
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    Cited by:

    1. Qi Li & Patrick Paul Walsh, 2009. "The Firm Size Distribution in a Small Open Economy: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 200920, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Firm size distribution; Gibrat's Law; R&D.;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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