Policy Distortions and Aggregate Productivity with Endogenous Establishment-Level Productivity
What accounts for differences in output per capita and total factor productivity (TFP) across countries? Empirical evidence points to resource misallocation across heterogeneous production units as an important factor. We study resource misallocation in a model where establishment-level productivity is endogenous and responds to the same policy distortions that create misallocation. In this framework, policy distortions not only misallocate resources across a given set of productive units (static effect), but also create disincentives for productivity improvement (dynamic effect) thereby affecting the productivity distribution and further contributing to lower aggregate output and productivity. The dynamic effect is substantial quantitatively. Reducing the dispersion in revenue productivity in the model by 25 percentage points to the level of the U.S. benchmark implies an increase in aggregate output and TFP by a factor of 2.9-fold. Improved resource allocation accounts for 42 percent of the gain, whereas the change in the productivity distribution accounts for the remaining 58 percent.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23339