Kenta Ikeuchi, Kyoji Fukao, Cristiano Perugini, 09 September 2021

In contrast to other comparable developed countries, wage inequality in Japan has remained stable in recent decades. However, this trend belies the substantial variation in wage gaps at the firm level. This column uses detailed worker and firm microdata to study how firm characteristics affect the evolution and variability of Japan’s college wage gap. It finds that larger establishments and those with a larger share of regular workers exhibit higher college wage premiums. These traits likely signify more productive environments with greater capacity to attract and keep highly educated employees with better unobservable characteristics. 

Augusto Cerqua, Marco Letta, 18 December 2020

There is widespread concern about the toll of the pandemic on local economies, but little causal evidence to assess its real costs. This column presents an impact evaluation of the local economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis in Italy, based on a counterfactual application of machine learning algorithms. It documents that, to date, impacts on employment and firms have been dramatically uneven across the Italian territory and spatially uncorrelated with the epidemiological pattern of the first wave. It shows that this heterogeneity is associated with sectoral specialisation, exposure to social aggregation risks, and pre-existing labour market fragilities. Finally, it argues that such diverging local trajectories call for a place-based approach in the policy response to the crisis.

Alessandra Bonfiglioli, Rosario Crinò, Gino Gancia, 10 June 2018

To date there has been little systematic evidence on the role of firms in explaining country performance. This column explores how the products of firms from all over the globe fare in competition in the US market. Results show that the countries that capture larger market shares have more exporters, producing higher-quality products, with a more dispersed distribution of firm attributes. Larger and richer markets are characterised by a more dispersed distribution of sales and quality, and a higher incidence of superstar firms.

Benjamin Faber, Thibault Fally, 02 August 2017

A recent literature has documented the impact of firm heterogeneity on workers’ earnings. This column assesses firm heterogeneity in the context of its impact on households’ cost of living. Rich and poor households source their consumption differently, and are therefore impacted differently by asymmetries in heterogeneous firms. An analysis suggests that moderate trade liberalisation could lead to a 1.5-2.5% lower cost-of-living inflation in retail consumption for the richest 20% of US households compared to the poorest 20%.

Antoine Berthou, Filippo di Mauro, 24 December 2015

The effect of exchange rate devaluations on a country’s exports is frequently debated, with some supporting a strong impact and others suggesting no sizeable response of exports to relative price changes. This column argues that firm heterogeneity in terms of productivity and size can explain the opposing views. The measured reaction of aggregate exports to relative price movements is largely determined by the reaction of the most productive/largest companies.

Atsuyuki Kato, 25 November 2014

A large literature shows the importance of firm heterogeneity in determining trade patterns. This column discusses policy implementation issues related to the ‘new new trade theory’. The nature of an export good – be it consumption or production oriented – influences the importance of firm productivity in the export decision. The relationship between productivity and markups also varies across industries; pro-export policies must take account of this, lest they exacerbate distortion.

Hylke Vandenbussche, Jozef Konings, 05 March 2008

The European Commission’s proposed anti-dumping reform (AD) has been dumped. This research suggests that is not always in the best interests of the industry that anti-dumping supposedly protects.

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