Productivity Dispersion and Input Prices: The Case of Electricity

41 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2009

See all articles by Steven J. Davis

Steven J. Davis

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Cheryl Grim

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies

John Haltiwanger

University of Maryland - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: September 1, 2008

Abstract

We exploit a rich new database on Prices and Quantities of Electricity in Manufacturing (PQEM) to study electricity productivity in the U.S. manufacturing sector. The database contains nearly 2 million customer-level observations (i.e., manufacturing plants) from 1963 to 2000. It allows us to construct plant-level measures of price paid per kWh, output per kWh, output per dollar spent on electric power and labor productivity. Using this database, we first document tremendous dispersion among U.S. manufacturing plants in electricity productivity measures and a strong negative relationship between price per kWh and output per kWh hour within narrowly defined industries. Using an IV strategy to isolate exogenous price variation, we estimate that the average elasticity of output per kWh with respect to the price of electricity is about 0.6 during the period from 1985 to 2000. We also develop evidence that this price-physical efficiency tradeoff is stronger for industries with bigger electricity cost shares. Finally, we develop evidence that stronger competitive pressures in the output market lead to less dispersion among manufacturing plants in price per kWh and in electricity productivity measures. The strength of competition effects on dispersion is similar for electricity productivity and labor productivity.

Suggested Citation

Davis, Steven J. and Grim, Cheryl and Haltiwanger, John C., Productivity Dispersion and Input Prices: The Case of Electricity (September 1, 2008). US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Paper No. CES-WP- 08-33. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1442487 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1442487

Steven J. Davis (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-7312 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Cheryl Grim

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies ( email )

Suitland Federal Center
Washington, DC 20233
United States

John C. Haltiwanger

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3504 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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