Monday, July 25, 2016

Competition, Innovation, and the Number of Firms

Pedro Bento (Texas A&M University, Department of Economics) looks at Competition, Innovation, and the Number of Firms.

ABSTRACT: I look at manufacturing firms across countries and over time, and find that barriers to competition actually increase the number of firms. This finding contradicts a central feature of all current models of endogenous markups and free entry, that higher barriers should reduce competition and firm entry, thereby increasing markups. To rationalize this finding, I extend a standard model in two ways. First, I allow for multi-product firms. Second, I model barriers as increasing the cost of entering a product market, rather than the cost of forming a firm. Higher barriers to competition reduce the number of products per firm and per market, but increase markups and the total number of firms. Calibrating the model to U.S. data, I estimate cross-country differences in consumption as large as 65 percent from observed differences in barriers to competition. In addition, increasing barriers generates either a negative or inverted-U relationship between firm-level ! innovation and markups. While higher markups encourage product-level innovation through the usual Schumpeterian mechanism, firm-level innovation (at least eventually) drops as firms reduce their number of products. I provide new evidence supporting these two novel implications of the model - that product-level innovation increases with barriers to competition, while the number of products per firm decreases.

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