Models of growth and firm heterogeneity

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Although employment at individual firms tends to be highly nonstationary, the employment size distribution of all firms in the United States appears to be stationary. It closely resembles a Pareto distribution. There is a lot of entry and exit, mostly of small firms. This review surveys general equilibrium models that can be used to interpret these facts and explores the role of innovation by new and incumbent firms in determining aggregate growth. The existence of a balanced growth path with a stationary employment size distribution depends crucially on assumptions made about the cost of entry. Some type of labor must be an essential input in setting up new firms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-576
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Economics
StatePublished - 2010


  • Firm size distribution
  • Heterogeneous productivity
  • Organization capital
  • Selection


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