100 Years of Rising Corporate Concentration

96 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 22 Sep 2022

See all articles by Spencer Yongwook Kwon

Spencer Yongwook Kwon

Harvard University

Yueran Ma

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Kaspar Zimmermann

Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE

Date Written: May 5, 2022

Abstract

We collect data on the size distribution of all U.S. corporate businesses for 100 years. We document that corporate concentration (e.g., asset share or sales share of the top 1%) has increased persistently over the past century. Rising concentration was stronger in manufacturing and mining before the 1970s, and stronger in services, retail, and wholesale after the 1970s. Furthermore, rising concentration in an industry aligns closely with investment intensity in research and development and information technology. Industries with higher increases in concentration also exhibit higher output growth. The long-run trends of rising corporate concentration indicate increasingly stronger economies of scale.

Keywords: Corporate concentration, economies of scale

JEL Classification: E23, E01, N12

Suggested Citation

Kwon, Spencer Yongwook and Ma, Yueran and Zimmermann, Kaspar, 100 Years of Rising Corporate Concentration (May 5, 2022). SAFE Working Paper No. #359, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3936799 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3936799

Spencer Yongwook Kwon

Harvard University

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yueran Ma (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Kaspar Zimmermann

Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE ( email )

Frankfurt am Main
Germany

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