IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers

The IWH-CompNet Discussion Paper series presents research based on productivity data provided by the Competitiveness Research Network (CompNet). The international network has the objective to develop a consistent analytical framework for assessing productivity and competitiveness. The papers are released in order to make the research of CompNet generally available, in preliminary form, to encourage comments and suggestions prior to final publication.

Current Issues


Declining Business Dynamism in Europe: The Role of Shocks, Market Power, and Technology

Filippo Biondi Sergio Inferrera Matthias Mertens Javier Miranda

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 2, 2023


We study changes in business dynamism in Europe after 2000 using novel micro-aggregated data that we collected for 19 European countries. In all countries, we document a broad-based decline in job reallocation rates that concerns most economic sectors and size classes. This decline is mainly driven by dynamics within sectors, size, and age classes rather than by compositional changes. Large and mature firms experience the strongest decline in job reallocation rates. Simultaneously, the employment shares of young firms decline. Consistent with US evidence, firms’ employment has become less responsive to productivity shocks. However, the dispersion of firms’ productivity shocks has decreased too. To enhance our understanding of these patterns, we derive and apply a novel firm-level framework that relates changes in firms’ sales, market power, wages, and production technology to firms’ responsiveness and job reallocation.

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Do Larger Firms Exert More Market Power? Markups and Markdowns along the Size Distribution

Matthias Mertens Bernardo Mottironi

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2023


Several models posit a positive cross-sectional correlation between markups and firm size, which characterizes misallocation, factor shares, and gains from trade. Accounting for labor market power in markup estimation, we find instead that larger firms have lower product markups but higher wage markdowns. The negative markup-size correlation turns positive when conditioning on markdowns, suggesting interactions between product and labor market power. Our findings are robust to common criticism (e.g., price bias, non-neutral technology) and hold across 19 European countries. We discuss possible mechanisms and resulting implications, highlighting the importance of studying input and output market power in a unified framework.

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Globalisation in Europe: Consequences for the Business Environment and Future Patterns in Light of Covid-19

Sergio Inferrera

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 2, 2021


In this paper, I study the consequences of globalisation, as measured by the involvement of firms in GVC, on the business environment. In particular, I focus on concentration and productivity, firstly by estimating robust elasticities and then isolating the exogenous component of the variation in the participation in GVC. To this aim, I exploit the distance between industries in terms of upstreamness and downstreamness along the supply chain. The evidences suggest that involvement in international supply chains is positively related to concentration at the sector level and positively associated with aggregate productivity, an effect that is driven by the firms at the top of the productivity distribution. Finally, I relate these findings to the current pandemic, going beyond the lack of official statistics and estimating GVC participation for 2020 at the country-level through real time world-seaborne trade data, providing evidences on the re-absorption of the Covid shock in several European economies.

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Benchmarking New Zealand's Frontier Firms

Guanyu Zheng Hoang Minh Duy Gail Pacheco

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2021


New Zealand has experienced poor productivity performance over the last two decades. Factors often cited as reasons behind this are the small size of the domestic market and distance to international partners and markets. While the distance reason is one that is fairly insurmountable, there are a number of other small advanced economies that also face similar domestic market constraints. This study compares the relative performance of New Zealand’s firms to those economies using novel cross-country microdata from CompNet. We present stylised facts for New Zealand relative to the economies of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands and Sweden based on average productivity levels, as well as benchmarking laggard, median and frontier firms. This research also employs an analytical framework of technology diffusion to evaluate the extent of productivity convergence, and the impact of the productivity frontier on non-frontier firm performance. Additionally, both labour and capital resource allocation are compared between New Zealand and the other small advanced economies. Results show that New Zealand’s firms have comparatively low productivity levels and that its frontier firms are not benefiting from the diffusion of best technologies outside the nation. Furthermore, there is evidence of labour misallocation in New Zealand based on less labour-productive firms having disproportionally larger employment shares than their more productive counterparts. Counter-factual analysis illustrates that improving both technology diffusion from abroad toward New Zealand’s frontier firms, and labour allocation across firms within New Zealand will see sizable productivity gains in New Zealand.

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The Viral Effects of Foreign Trade and Supply Networks in the Euro Area

Virginia di Nino Bruno Veltri

in: IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers, No. 4, 2020


Containment measures of COVID-19 have generated a chain of supply and demand shocks around the globe with heterogeneous fallout across industries and countries. We quantify their transmission via foreign trade with a focus on the euro area where deep firms integration within regional supply chains and strong demand linkages act as a magnification mechanism. We estimate that spillover effects in the euro area from suppression measures in one of the five main euro area countries range between 15-28% the size of the original shock; negative foreign demand shocks depress euro area aggregate activity by about a fifth the size of the external shock and a fourth of the total effect is due to indirect propagation through euro area supply chain. Last, reopening to regional tourism softened the contraction of aggregate activity due to travel and tourism bans by about a third in the euro area. Our findings suggest that enhanced coordination of recovery plans would magnify their beneficial effects.

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