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Innovation, Productivity Dispersion, and Productivity Growth

Lucia Foster, Cheryl Grim, John Haltiwanger, Zoltan Wolf


This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book Measuring and Accounting for Innovation in the 21st Century, Carol Corrado, Jonathan Haskel, Javier Miranda, and Daniel Sichel, organizers
Conference held March 10–11, 2017
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press
in NBER Book Series Studies in Income and Wealth

We examine whether underlying industry innovation dynamics are an important driver of the large dispersion in productivity across firms within narrowly defined sectors. Our hypothesis is that periods of rapid innovation are accompanied by high rates of entry, significant experimentation and, in turn, a high degree of productivity dispersion. Following this experimentation phase, successful innovators and adopters grow while unsuccessful innovators contract and exit yielding productivity growth. We examine the dynamic relationship between entry, productivity dispersion, and productivity growth using a new comprehensive firm-level dataset for the U.S. We find a surge of entry within an industry yields with a lag an increase in productivity dispersion and then after a subsequent lag an increase in productivity growth. These patterns are more pronounced for the High Tech sector where we expect there to be more innovative activities. These patterns change over time suggesting other forces are at work during the post-2000 slowdown in aggregate productivity.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w24420, Innovation, Productivity Dispersion, and Productivity Growth, Lucia Foster, Cheryl Grim, John C. Haltiwanger, Zoltan Wolf
 
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