Professor Ufuk Akcigit, PhD

Professor Ufuk Akcigit, PhD
Current Position

since 1/20

Research Professor
 

Head of the Research Group The Economic Gap between East and West Germany

Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association

since 8/19

Professor of Economics

University of Chicago

since 9/21

Fellow

Econometric Society

Research Interests

  • macroeconomics
  • economic growth
  • firm dynamics
  • innovation
  • entrepreneurship

Ufuk Akcigit, winner of the Max-Planck-Humboldt Research Award, joined the institute as a Research Professor in January 2020. His research focuses on macroeconomics, economic growth, firm dynamics, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Ufuk Akcigit holds the position of Professor of Economics at University of Chicago and he is a Fellow of the Econometric Society. He received his PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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Professor Ufuk Akcigit, PhD
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Publications

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Ten Facts on Declining Business Dynamism and Lessons from Endogenous Growth Theory

Ufuk Akcigit Sina T. Ates

in: American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, No. 1, 2021

Abstract

In this paper, we review the literature on declining business dynamism and its implications in the United States and propose a unifying theory to analyze the symptoms and the potential causes of this decline. We first highlight 10 pronounced stylized facts related to declining business dynamism documented in the literature and discuss some of the existing attempts to explain them. We then describe a theoretical framework of endogenous markups, innovation, and competition that can potentially speak to all of these facts jointly. We next explore some theoretical predictions of this framework, which are shaped by two interacting forces: a composition effect that determines the market concentration and an incentive effect that determines how firms respond to a given concentration in the economy. The results highlight that a decline in knowledge diffusion between frontier and laggard firms could be a significant driver of empirical trends observed in the data. This study emphasizes the potential of growth theory for the analysis of factors behind declining business dynamism and the need for further investigation in this direction.

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Lack of Selection and Limits to Delegation: Firm Dynamics in Developing Countries

Ufuk Akcigit Harun Alp Michael Peters

in: American Economic Review, No. 1, 2021

Abstract

Delegating managerial tasks is essential for firm growth. Most firms in developing countries, however, do not hire outside managers but instead rely on family members. In this paper, we ask if this lack of managerial delegation can explain why firms in poor countries are small and whether it has important aggregate consequences. We construct a model of firm growth where entrepreneurs have a fixed time endowment to run their daily operations. As firms grow large, the need to hire outside managers increases. Firms’ willingness to expand therefore depends on the ease with which delegation can take place. We calibrate the model to plant-level data from the U.S. and India. We identify the key parameters of our theory by targeting the experimental evidence on the effect of managerial practices on firm performance from Bloom et al. (2013). We find that inefficiencies in the delegation environment account for 11% of the income per capita difference between the U.S. and India. They also contribute to the small size of Indian producers, but would cause substantially more harm for U.S. firms. The reason is that U.S. firms are larger on average and managerial delegation is especially valuable for large firms, thus making delegation efficiency and other factors affecting firm growth complements.

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History, Microdata, and Endogenous Growth

Ufuk Akcigit Tom Nicholas

in: Annual Review of Economics, 2019

Abstract

The study of economic growth is concerned with long-run changes, and therefore, historical data should be especially influential in informing the development of new theories. In this review, we draw on the recent literature to highlight areas in which study of history has played a particularly prominent role in improving our understanding of growth dynamics. Research at the intersection of historical data, theory, and empirics has the potential to reframe how we think about economic growth in much the same way that historical perspectives helped to shape the first generation of endogenous growth theories.

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Working Papers

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Committing to Grow: Privatizations and Firm Dynamics in East Germany

Ufuk Akcigit Harun Alp André Diegmann Nicolas Serrano-Velarde

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 17, 2023

Abstract

This paper investigates a unique policy designed to maintain employment during the privatization of East German firms after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The policy required new owners of the firms to commit to employment targets, with penalties for non-compliance. Using a dynamic model, we highlight three channels through which employment targets impact firms: distorted employment decisions, increased productivity, and higher exit rates. Our empirical analysis, using a novel dataset and instrumental variable approach, confirms these findings. We estimate a 22% points higher annual employment growth rate, a 14% points higher annual productivity growth, and a 3.6% points higher probability of exit for firms with binding employment targets. Our calibrated model further demonstrates that without these targets, aggregate employment would have been 15% lower after 10 years. Additionally, an alternative policy of productivity investment subsidies proved costly and less effective in the short term.

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Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index: A New Employment Series for the US, Canada, and the UK

Ufuk Akcigit Raman Chhina Seyit Cilasun Javier Miranda Eren Ocakverdi Nicolas Serrano-Velarde

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 9, 2023

Abstract

Small and young businesses are essential for job creation, innovation, and economic growth. Even most of the superstar firms start their business life small and then grow over time. Small firms have less internal resources, which makes them more fragile and sensitive to macroeconomic conditions. This suggests the need for frequent and real-time monitoring of the small business sector’s health. Previously this was difficult due to a lack of appropriate data. This paper fills this important gap by developing a new Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index that focuses on the smallest of small businesses with at most 9 workers in the US and the UK and at most 19 workers in Canada. The Index aggregates a sample of anonymous Quick- Books Online Payroll subscriber data (QBO Payroll sample) from 333,000 businesses in the US, 66,000 in Canada, and 25,000 in the UK. After comparing the QBO Payroll sample data to the official statistics, we remove the seasonal components and use a Flexible Least Squares method to calibrate the QBO Payroll sample data against official statistics. Finally, we use the estimated model and the QBO Payroll sample data to generate a near real-time index of economic activity. We show that the estimated model performs well both in-sample and out-of-sample. Additionally, we use this analysis for different regions and industries. Keywords:

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Connecting to Power: Political Connections, Innovation, and Firm Dynamics

Ufuk Akcigit Salomé Baslandze Francesca Lotti

in: NBER Working Paper, No. 25136, 2018

Abstract

How do political connections affect firm dynamics, innovation, and creative destruction? To answer this question, we build a firm dynamics model, where we allow firms to invest in innovation and/or political connection to advance their productivity and to overcome certain market frictions. Our model generates a number of theoretical testable predictions and highlights a new interaction between static gains and dynamic losses from rent-seeking in aggregate productivity. We test the predictions of our model using a brand-new dataset on Italian firms and their workers, spanning the period from 1993 to 2014, where we merge: (i) firm-level balance sheet data; (ii) social security data on the universe of workers; (iii) patent data from the European Patent Office; (iv) the national registry of local politicians; and (v) detailed data on local elections in Italy. We find that firm-level political connections are widespread, especially among large firms, and that industries with a larger share of politically connected firms feature worse firm dynamics. We identify a leadership paradox: when compared to their competitors, market leaders are much more likely to be politically connected, but much less likely to innovate. In addition, political connections relate to a higher rate of survival, as well as growth in employment and revenue, but not in productivity – a result that we also confirm using a regression discontinuity design.

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