James A. Schmitz, Jr

James A. Schmitz, Jr

Senior Research Economist

jas@minneapolisfed.org
CV

Interests:
Industrial organization
Economic growth

Jim Schmitz taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and SUNY–Stony Brook before coming to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in 1992. He is currently a senior research economist at the Bank and a visiting professor in economics at the University of Minnesota. Jim’s main interests are in the fields of economic growth and industrial organization. He has published in several journals, including the Journal of Political Economy and the American Economic Review.

Monopoly and the Incentive to Innovate When Adoption Involves Switchover Disruptions

Arrow (1962) argued that since a monopoly restricts output relative to a competitive industry, it would be less willing to pay a fixed cost to adopt a new technology. We develop a new theory of why a monopolistic industry innovates less. Firms often face major problems in integrating new technologies. In some cases, upon adoption of technology, firms must temporarily reduce output. We call such problems switchover disruptions. A cost of adoption, then, is the forgone rents on the sales of lost or delayed production, and these opportunity costs are larger the higher the price on those lost units.

The Role of Transportation in U.S. Economic Development: 1840-1860

We return to two questions concerning the 19th century U.S. transportation revolution. First, to what extent were transportation improvements responsible for the large changes in the regional distribution of population in the United States and, within regions, for the changes in industry structure? Second, how important were transportation improvements for welfare gains? We find that transport improvements were the key factor driving where people lived and what industry they worked in. We also find that transport improvements were important for welfare gains: Gains over 1840–1860 would have been only half as large if there had been no transportation improvements.

Competition and Productivity: A Review of Evidence

Does competition spur productivity? And if so, how does it accomplish this? These have long been regarded as central questions in economics. This article reviews the literature that makes progress toward answering both questions.

Privatization’s Impact on Private Productivity: The Case of Brazilian Iron Ore

A major motivation for the recent wave of privatizations of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) was a belief that privatization would increase SOE productivity. There are now many studies showing most privatizations achieved this goal. Our theme is that the productivity gains from privatization are much more general and widespread than has typically been recognized in this literature. In assessing the productivity gains from privatization, the literature has only examined the productivity gains accruing at the privatized SOEs. But privatization may have significant impact on the private producers that often exist side-by-side SOEs. In this paper we show that this was indeed the case when Brazil privatized its SOEs in the iron ore industry. That is, after their privatization, the iron ore SOEs dramatically increased their labor productivity, but so did the private iron ore companies in the industry.

What Determines Productivity? Lessons from the Dramatic Recovery of the U.S. and Canadian Iron Ore Industries Following Their Early 1980s Crisis

Great Lakes iron ore producers had faced no competition from foreign iron ore in the Great Lakes steel market for nearly a century as the 1970s closed. In the early 1980s, as a result of unprecedented developments in the world steel market, Brazilian producers were offering to deliver iron ore to Chicago (the heart of the Great Lakes market) at prices substantially below prices of local iron ore. The U.S. and Canadian iron ore industries faced a major crisis that cast doubt on their future. In response to the crisis, these industries dramatically increased productivity. Labor productivity doubled in a few years (whereas it had changed little in the preceding decade). Materials productivity increased by more than half. Capital productivity increased as well. I show that most of the productivity gains were due to changes in work practices. Work practice changes reduced overstaffing and hence increased labor productivity. By increasing the fraction of time equipment was in operating mode, changes in work practices also significantly increased materials and capital productivity.

Latin America in the Rearview Mirror

Latin American countries are the only Western countries that are poor and that are not gaining ground on the U.S. This paper evaluates why Latin America has not replicated Western economic success. We find that this failure is primarily due to TFP differences. Latin America’s TFP gap is not plausibly accounted for by human capital differences, but rather reflects inefficient production. We argue that competitive barriers are a promising channel for understanding low Latin TFP. We document that Latin America has many more international and domestic competitive barriers than do Western and successful East Asian countries. We also document a number of microeconomic cases in Latin America in which large reductions in competitive barriers increase Latin American productivity to Western levels.

Competitive Pressure and Labor Productivity: World Iron-Ore Markets in the 1980’s

Does the extent of competitive pressure industries face influence their productivity? We study a natural experiment conducted in the iron ore industry as a result of the collapse in world steel production in the early 1980s. For iron ore producers, whose only market is the steel industry, this collapse was an exogenous shock. The drop in steel production differed dramatically by region: it fell by about a third in the Atlantic Basin but only very little in the Pacific Basin. Given that the cost of transporting iron ore is very high relative to its mine value, Atlantic iron ore producers faced a much greater increase in competitive pressure than did Pacific iron ore producers. In response to the crisis, most Atlantic iron ore producers doubled their labor productivity; Pacific iron ore producers experienced few productivity gains.

Competition at Work: Railroads vs. Monopoly in the U.S. Shipping Industry

This study primarily establishes two things: (1) that monopoly has been pervasive in the U.S. water transportation industry in both the 19th and 20th centuries and has led to prices above competitive levels and the adoption of inefficient technologies and (2) that the competition of railroads has greatly weakened this monopolistic tendency, leading to lower water transport prices and fewer inefficient technologies. The study establishes these points using standard economic theory and extensive historical U.S. data on the behavior of unions and shipping companies. These gains from competition have been ignored by researchers studying the contribution of railroads to U.S. economic growth. Researchers have assumed that if railroads had not been developed, the long-distance transportation industry would have been competitive. This study shows that it would not have been. The quantitative estimates of previous studies thus are likely to have significantly understated the gains from the development of railroads.

A Gain from Trade: From Unproductive to Productive Entrepreneurship

There is a large and growing theoretical literature studying the allocation of individuals and their effort amongst productive and unproductive entrepreneurial activities. Trade and competition between regions have been recognized as potentially powerful forces limiting unproductive entrepreneurial activities. In this paper we extend the technology-ladder model of Grossman and Helpman to study this issue and demonstrate conditions under which lowering of tariffs leads to a shift from unproductive to productive entrepreneurial activities.

Government Production of Investment Goods and Aggregate Labor Productivity

In this paper, I estimate the impact on aggregate labor productivity of having government, rather than private industry, produce investment goods. This policy was pursued to varying degrees by Egypt, India, and Turkey, among others. The policy has a large impact because there is both a direct effect (it lowers productivity in the investment sector) and a secondary effect (it lowers the economy-wide capital stock per worker). I estimate that this policy alone reduced Egypt’s aggregate productivity by 30% and accounted for 20% of Egypt’s aggregate labor productivity gap with the United States during the 1960s.

Maintenance and Repair: Too Big to Ignore

Most models of aggregate economic activity, like the standard neoclassical growth model, ignore the fact that equipment and structures are maintained and repaired. Once physical capital is purchased in these models, there are typically no more decisions made regarding its use. The theme of this article is that there is evidence to suggest that incorporating expenditures on the maintenance and repair of physical capital into models of aggregate economic activity will change the quantitative answers to some key questions that have been addressed with these models. This evidence is primarily from a little-used economywide survey in Canada. The survey shows that the activity of maintaining and repairing equipment and structures is an activity that is generally both large relative to investment and a substitute for investment to some extent—and to a large extent during some episodes.

Explaining Cross-Country Income Differences

This chapter reviews the literature that tries to explain the disparity and variation of GDP per worker and GDP per capita across countries and across time. There are many potential explanations for the different patterns of development across countries, including differences in luck, raw materials, geography, preferences, and economic policies. We focus on differences in economic policies and ask to what extent can differences in policies across countries account for the observed variability in income levels and their growth rates. We review estimates for a wide range of policy variables. In many cases, the magnitude of the estimates is under debate. Estimates found by running cross-sectional growth regressions are sensitive to which variables are included as explanatory variables. Estimates found using quantitative theory depend in critical ways on values of parameters and measures of factor inputs for which there is little consensus. In this chapter, we review the ongoing debates of the literature and the progress that has been made thus far.

The Role Played by Public Enterprises: How Much Does It Differ Across Countries?

This article studies the extent to which governments produce goods for the market (that is, the extent of public enterprise production). It concludes that the current literature dramatically understates the role of public enterprises in many low-productivity countries. The current literature focuses on the total value of goods produced by public enterprises. This article focuses on the types of goods they produce. While the total value of goods produced by public enterprises (as a share of total output) differs a bit across countries, the types of goods they produce differ much more dramatically. In many low-productivity countries, the government produces a large share of the country’s manufactured goods. In nearly all high-productivity countries, the government stays out of the manufacturing sector altogether. Therefore—and because the manufacturing sector plays a special role in economies—this article concludes that public enterprises play a very large role in many low-productivity countries.

Nonresponse Bias and Business Turnover Rates: The Case of the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey

This article considers the problem of nonresponse in the Characteristics of Business Owners survey. It presents a novel approach for assessing the extent to which nonresponse is nonignorable. The method exploits the fact that all of the owners of multiowner firms were surveyed. The article uses information received from a responding owner to derive inferences about a nonresponding owner of the same firm. It provides evidence that nonrespondents are more likely than respondents to discontinue ownership. The article estimates a variety of models of the joint process of ownership survival and survey response and quantifies the effects of ignoring nonresponse.

Managerial Tenure, Business Age, and Small Business Turnover

This article explores a Census Bureau survey of the small business sector, the 1982 Characteristics of Business Owners survey, which contains information on both small businesses and the managers running them. A number of patterns are documented. For example, among small businesses of the same age, the probability that a business fails and the probability that a business is sold are both initially decreasing in the tenure of the manager at the business. Among businesses with managers who have the same tenure at their business, the probability that a business fails is decreasing in the age of the business.

Resistance to New Technology and Trade Between Areas

Historically, competition, or the extension of markets, has repeatedly brought tremendous increases in wealth. However, there is still plenty of uncertainty among economists as to why that is so. This article develops a model in which competition, modeled as the movement of goods between two areas, reduces resistance to new technology and, hence, leads to increased technology adoption and wealth. Here, the extension of markets leads to wealth increases because it reduces activities that block the use of new, more productive technology.

On the Turnover of Business Firms and Business Managers

This paper develops a model of small business failure and sale that is motivated by recent evidence concerning how the failure and sale of small businesses vary with the age of the business and the tenure of the manager. This evidence motivates two key features of the model: a match between the manager and the business, and characteristics of businesses that survive beyond the current match. The parameters of the model are estimated and the properties of this parametric model are studied. This analysis results in a simple characterization of the workings of the small business sector.

Wages, Employment Structure and Employer Size-wage Premia: Their Relationship to Advanced-Technology Usage at US Manufacturing Establishments

A common theme in the labor economics literature is that use of advanced technology in production requires a skilled and educated workforce. Using a new survey of production processes at U.S. manufacturing plants, we ask whether plants that employ advanced technology require a skilled workforce. We find that plants that use the most advanced technology pay the highest wages and employ the greatest fraction of non-production workers (who are generally regarded as more skilled than production workers). The inclusion in standard wage regressions of variables that indicate the use of advanced technology reduces the size-wage premia by as much as 60 percent for some size categories.

Can Companies Maintain their Initial Innovative Thrust? A Study of the PC Software Industry

This paper identifies a number of patterns in the sales of products within firms and over time in the PC software industry. For example, the authors find that a firm’s initial product tends to be its most successful. There is also some indication that a firm’s initial product sells better than its second, its second better than its third, and so on. The authors sketch some simple models consistent with these results.

Early Progress on the “Problem of Economic Development”

This study describes recent attempts to solve what Lucas has called the “problem of economic development”—the problem of accounting for the great disparity in per-capita output across countries. The study examines a number of economic development theories, including the neoclassical theory of growth, which relies on cross-country differences in physical capital per person to explain the disparity, and newer theories, which stress cross-country differences in human capital, or education. It is argued that these models cannot account for observed per-capita output diversity. More promising theories are those that stress differences in incentives for entrepreneurs to create businesses (i.e., business capital) and adopt new technologies.

Research and Imitation in Long-run Growth

Governments have long subsidized both the development of knowledge (research) and the acquisition of knowledge (imitation). This raises some interesting questions. Why subsidize both activities? And if both activities are to be supported, how should subsidy rates for each be set? We develop a theory of long-run growth in which both the initial development of a body of knowledge (research) and its subsequent acquisition by others (imitation) are endogenously determined. Consequently, we are able to provide answers to these and other questions in the context of the model economy.

Are New Firms an Important Source of Innovation? Evidence from the PC Software Industry

We examine data from the PC software industry to determine if new forms play an important role in the advance of technology in this industry over the period 1982–1987. We find that new firms have a comparative advantage (over established firms) in creating new software categories, while established firms have a comparative advantage in developing subsequent improvements in existing categories.

A Theory of Entrepreneurship and Its Application to the Study of Business Transfers

The authors formalize a view of entrepreneurship in the spirit of Theordore W. Schultz. In this view, entrepreneurs are those individuals who respond to the opportunities for creating new products (and the like) that arise because of technological progress, for example. The theory has implications for entry and exit, specialization of labor, and business transfers. These business transfers correspond to, among other things, individuals changing jobs and sales of firms. Transfers are seen as a mechanism facilitating division of labor. The authors also discuss evidence on business transfers that occur through sales of firms.

Imitation, Entrepreneurship, and Long-Run Growth

Despite the widespread belief that entrepreneurship is a key factor in economic development, there have been few attempts to develop formal models to analyze the phenomenon. This paper presents a model in which endogenous entrepreneurial activity is a key determinant of economic growth. The theory also differs from standard models in that growth is driven by the imitative activities of entrepreneurs. Previous theories have focused on the direct production of knowledge, underemphasizing the importance of imitation in the growth process. The paper also examines external effects arising from these entrepreneurial activities–effects distinct from those studied by Paul Romer.

The Costs of Monopoly: A New View

Economists overwhelmingly agree that the actual costs of monopoly are small, even trivial. This consensus is based on a theory that assumes monopolies are well-run businesses that limit their output in order to drive up prices and maximize profit. And because empirical studies have found that monopolists do not restrict output or raise prices by very much, most economists have concluded that monopolies inflict relatively little harm on the economy.

In this essay, I review recent research that upends both the theoretical and empirical elements of this consensus view.2 This research shows that monopolies are not well-run businesses, but instead are deeply inefficient. Monopolies do drive up prices, as conventional theory suggests, but because they also reduce productivity, they often ultimately destroy most of an industry’s profits. These productivity losses are a dead-weight loss for the economy, and far from trivial.

Cartels Destroy Productivity: Evidence from the New Deal Sugar Manufacturing Cartel, 1934-74

The idea that cartels might reduce industry productivity by misallocating production from high to low productivity producers is as old as Adam. However, the study of the economic consequences of cartels has almost exclusively focused on the losses from higher prices (i.e., Harberger triangles). Yet, as the old idea suggests, we show that the rules for quotas and side payments in the New Deal sugar cartel led to significant misallocation of production. The resulting productivity declines essentially destroyed the entire cartel profit. The magnitude of the deadweight losses (relative to value added) was large: we estimate a lower bound for the losses equal to 25 percent and 42 percent in the beet and cane industries, respectively.

What Ever Happened to the Puerto Rican Sugar Manufacturing Industry?

Beginning in the early 1900s, Puerto Rican sugar has entered the U.S. mainland tariff free. Given this new status, the Puerto Rican sugar industry grew dramatically, soon far outstripping Louisiana’s production. Then, in the middle 1960s, something amazing happened. Production collapsed. Manufacturing sugar in Puerto Rico was no longer profitable. Louisiana, in contrast, continued to produce and grow sugar. We argue that local economic policy was responsible for the industry’s demise. In the 1930s and 1940s, the local Puerto Rican government enacted policies to stifle the growth of large cane-farms. As a result, starting in the late 1930s, farm size fell, mechanization of farms essentially ceased, and the Puerto Rican sugar industry’s productivity (relative to Louisiana) rapidly declined until the industry collapsed. The overall Puerto Rican economy also began to perform poorly in the late 1930s. In particular, Puerto Rico’s per capita income was converging to that of the poorest U.S. states until the late 1930s, but since then it has lost ground to these states. One naturally wonders: was the poor overall performance of the Puerto Rican economy also the result of policy? We show that Puerto Rico embarked on other economic policies in the early 1940s that proved to be major setbacks to its economic development.

New and Larger Costs of Monopoly and Tariffs

Fifty-eight years ago, Arnold Harberger estimated that the costs of monopoly, which resulted from misallocation of resources across industries, were trivial. Others showed that the same was true for tariffs. This research soon led to the consensus that monopoly costs are of little significance—a consensus that persists to this day.
This paper reports on a new literature that takes a different approach to the costs of monopoly. It examines the costs of monopoly and tariffs within industries. In particular, it examines the histories of industries in which a monopoly is destroyed (or tariffs greatly reduced) and the industry transitions quickly from monopoly to competition. If there are costs of monopoly and high tariffs within industries, it should be possible to see those costs whittled away as the monopoly is destroyed.
In contrast to the prevailing consensus, this new research has identified significant costs of monopoly. Monopoly (and high tariffs) is shown to significantly lower productivity within establishments. It also leads to misallocation within industries: Resources are transferred from high- to low-productivity establishments.
From these histories, a common theme (or theory) emerges as to why monopoly is costly. When a monopoly is created, “rents” are created. Conflict emerges among shareholders, managers and employees of the monopoly as they negotiate how to divide these rents. Mechanisms are set up to split the rents. These mechanisms are often means to reduce competition among members of the monopoly. Although the mechanisms divide rents, they also destroy them (by leading to low productivity and misallocation).

New and Larger Costs of Monopoly and Tariffs

Fifty-eight years ago, Arnold Harberger estimated that the costs of monopoly, which resulted from misallocation of resources across industries, were trivial. Others showed that the same was true for tariffs. This research soon led to the consensus that monopoly costs are of little significance—a consensus that persists to this day.
This paper reports on a new literature that takes a different approach to the costs of monopoly. It examines the costs of monopoly and tariffs within industries. In particular, it examines the histories of industries in which a monopoly is destroyed (or tariffs greatly reduced) and the industry transitions quickly from monopoly to competition. If there are costs of monopoly and high tariffs within industries, it should be possible to see those costs whittled away as the monopoly is destroyed.
In contrast to the prevailing consensus, this new research has identified significant costs of monopoly. Monopoly (and high tariffs) is shown to significantly lower productivity within establishments. It also leads to misallocation within industries: Resources are transferred from high- to low-productivity establishments.
From these histories, a common theme (or theory) emerges as to why monopoly is costly. When a monopoly is created, “rents” are created. Conflict emerges among shareholders, managers and employees of the monopoly as they negotiate how to divide these rents. Mechanisms are set up to split the rents. These mechanisms are often means to reduce competition among members of the monopoly. Although the mechanisms divide rents, they also destroy them (by leading to low productivity and misallocation).

Competition and Productivity: A Review of Evidence

Does competition spur productivity? And if so, how does it do so? These have long been regarded as central questions in economics. This essay reviews the literature that makes progress toward answering both questions.

The Economic Performance of Cartels: Evidence from the New Deal U.S. Sugar Manufacturing Cartel, 1934–74

We study the U.S. sugar manufacturing cartel that was created during the New Deal. This was a legal-cartel that lasted 40 years (1934-74). As a legal-cartel, the industry was assured widespread adherence to domestic and import sales quotas (given it had access to government enforcement powers). But it also meant accepting government-sponsored cartel-provisions. These provisions significantly distorted production at each factory and also where the industry was located. These distortions were reflected in, for example, a declining industry recovery rate, that is, the pounds of white sugar produced per ton of beets. It declined from about 310 pounds in 1934 to 240 pounds in 1974. The cartel provisions also distorted the location of industry. For example, it kept production in California and the Far West. Since the cartel ended in 1974, California’s share of sugar production has dropped dramatically.

Transportation and Development: Insights from the U.S., 1840–1860

We study the effects of large transportation costs on economic development. We argue that the Midwest and the Northeast of the U.S. is a natural case because starting from 1840 decent data is available showing that the two regions shared key characteristics with today’s developing countries and that transportation costs were large and then came way down. To disentangle the effects of the large reduction in transportation costs from those of other changes that happened during 1840–1860, we build a model that speaks to the distribution of people across regions and across the sectors of production. We find that the large reduction in transportation costs was a quantitatively important force behind the settlement of the Midwest and the regional specialization that concentrated agriculture in the Midwest and industry in the Northeast. Moreover, we find that it led to the convergence of the regional per capita incomes measured in current regional prices and that it increased real GDP per capita. However, the increase in real GDP per capita is considerably smaller than that resulting from the productivity growth in the nontransportation sectors.

Monopoly and the Incentive to Innovate When Adoption Involves Switchover Disruptions

Arrow (1962) argued that since a monopoly restricts output relative to a competitive industry, it would be less willing to pay a fixed cost to adopt a new technology. Arrow’s idea has been challenged and critiques have shown that under different assumptions, increases in competition lead to less innovation. We develop a new theory of why a monopolistic industry innovates less than a competitive industry. The key is that firms often face major problems in integrating new technologies. In some cases, upon adoption of technology, firms must temporarily reduce output. We call such problems switchover disruptions. If firms face switchover disruptions, then a cost of adoption is the forgone rents on the sales of lost or delayed production, and these opportunity costs are larger the higher the price on those lost units. In particular, with greater monopoly power, the greater the forgone rents. This idea has significant consequences since if we add switchover disruptions to standard models, then the critiques of Arrow lose their force: competition again leads to greater adoption. In addition, we show that our model helps explain the accumulating evidence that competition leads to greater adoption (whereas the standard models cannot).

Does Regulation Reduce Productivity? Evidence From Regulation of the U.S. Beet-Sugar Manufacturing Industry During the Sugar Acts, 1934-74

We study the impact of regulation on productivity and welfare in the U.S. sugar manufacturing industry. While this U.S. industry has been protected from foreign competition for nearly 150 years, it was regulated only during the Sugar Act period, 1934–74. We show that regulation significantly reduced productivity, with these productivity losses leading to large welfare losses. Our initial results indicate that the welfare losses are many times larger than those typically studied—those arising from higher prices. We also argue that the channels through which regulation led to large productivity and welfare declines in this industry were also present in many other regulated industries, like banking and trucking.

What Determines Productivity? Lessons From the Dramatic Recovery of the U.S. and Canadian Iron Ore Industries Following Their Early 1980s Crisis

Great Lakes iron ore producers had faced no competition from foreign iron ore in the Great Lakes steel market for nearly a century as the 1970s closed. In the early 1980s, as a result of unprecedented developments in the world steel market, Brazilian producers were offering to deliver iron ore to Chicago (the heart of the Great Lakes market) at prices substantially below local iron ore prices. The U.S. and Canadian iron ore industries faced a major crisis that cast doubt on their future. In response to the crisis, these industries dramatically increased productivity. Labor productivity doubled in a few years (whereas it had changed little in the preceding decade). Materials productivity increased by more than half. Capital productivity increased as well. I show that most of the productivity gains were due to changes in work practices. Work practice changes reduced overstaffing and hence increased labor productivity. Changes in work practices, by increasing the fraction of time equipment was in operating mode, also significantly increased materials and capital productivity.

Privatization’s Impact on Private Productivity: The Case of Brazilian Iron Ore

A major motivation for the recent wave of privatizations of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) was a belief that privatization would increase SOE productivity. There are now many studies showing most privatizations achieved this goal. Our theme is that the productivity gains from privatization are much more general and widespread than has typically been recognized in this literature. In assessing the productivity gains from privatization, the literature has only examined the productivity gains accruing at the privatized SOEs. But privatization may have significant impact on the private producers that often exist side-by-side SOEs. In this paper we show that this was indeed the case when Brazil privatized its SOEs in the iron ore industry. That is, after their privatization, the iron ore SOEs dramatically increased their labor productivity, but so did the private iron ore companies in the industry.

Threats to Industry Survival and Labor Productivity: World Iron-Ore Markets in the 1980’s

In the early 1980’s, the world steel market collapsed. Since the almost exclusive use of iron-ore is in steel production, many iron-ore mines had to be shut down. We divide the major iron-ore producing countries into groups based on the threat of closure faced by iron-ore mines in the respective country. In countries where mines faced no threat of closure, the iron-ore industry had little or no productivity gain over the decade. In countries where mines faced a large threat of closure, the industry typically had productivity gains ranging from 50 to 100 percent, gains that were unprecedented. We then argue that these productivity increases were not driven by new technology or by the closing of low productivity mines. Hence, the productivity gains were driven by continuing mines, using existing technology, increasing their productivity in order to stay in operation.

Explaining Cross-Country Income Differences

This chapter reviews the literature that tries to explain the disparity and variation of GDP per worker and GDP per capita across countries and across time. There are many potential explanations for the different patterns of development across countries, including differences in luck, raw materials, geography, preferences, and economic policies. We focus on differences in economic policies and ask to what extent can differences in policies across countries account for the observed variability in income levels and their growth rates. We review estimates for a wide range of policy variables. In many cases, the magnitude of the estimates is under debate. Estimates found by running cross-sectional growth regressions are sensitive to which variables are included as explanatory variables. Estimates found using quantitative theory depend in critical ways on values of parameters and measures of factor inputs for which there is little consensus. In this chapter, we review the ongoing debates of the literature and the progress that has been made thus far.

A Gain From Trade: More Research, Less Obstruction

There is an old wisdom that reductions in tariffs force changes on producers that lead to costless, or nearly so, increases in productivity. We construct a technology-ladder model that captures this wisdom. As in other technology-ladder models, time spent in research helps propel an industry up a technology-ladder. In contrast to the literature, we include another activity that plays a role in determining an industry’s position on the technology-ladder: attempts to obstruct the research program of rivals (through regulations, for example). In this world, reductions in tariffs between countries lead producers to spend more time in research and less in obstruction of rivals.

Government Production of Investment Goods and Aggregate Labor Productivity

In this paper, I estimate the impact on aggregate labor productivity of having government, rather than private industry, produce investment goods. This policy was pursued to varying degrees by Egypt, India, Turkey, among others. The policy has a large impact because there is both a direct effect (on the production function in the investment sector) and a secondary effect (on the economywide capital stock per worker). I estimate that this policy alone accounted for about one-third of Egypt’s aggregate labor productivity gap with the United States during the 1960s.

Breaking Down the Barriers to Technological Progress

On the Turnover of Business Firms and Business Managers

This paper develops a model of small business failure and sale that is motivated by recent evidence concerning how the failure and sale of small businesses vary with the age of the business and the tenure of the manager. This evidence motivates two key features of the model: A match between the manager and the business, and characteristics of businesses that survive beyond the current match. The parameters of the model are estimated, and the properties of this parametric model are studied. This analysis results in a simple characterization of the workings of the small business sector.

Resistance to Technology and Trade Between Areas

Why are methods of production used in an area when more “efficient” methods are available? This paper explores a “resistance to technology” explanation. In particular, the paper attempts to understand why some industries, like the construction industry, have had continued success in blocking new methods, while others have met failure, like the dairy industry’s recent attempt to block bST. We develop a model which shows that how easily goods move between areas determines in part the extent of resistance to new methods in an area.