Rate this post

We reside in a superstar economy in which major firms command a disproportionate share of sales and wealth. According to The Economist (17 September 2016), 10% of the world’s public organizations create 80% of all income, and the share of GDP generated by the Fortune 100 most significant US organizations rose from about 33% of GDP in 1994 to 46% in 2013. A big quantity of papers have documented that, considering the fact that the late 1990s, the fraction of sales accrued by major firms and other concentration indexes have risen in most US sectors (e.g., see Autor et al. 2017, Rossi-Hansberg et al. 2018). International proof, albeit much more sparse, indicates that concentration has grown in quite a few OECD nations also. Huge firms also dominate exports. In a sample of 32 largely building nations, the major 5 firms account on typical for 30% of a county’s total exports (Freund and Pierola 2015). These observations have raised really serious issues that the development of superstar firms could be synonymous with reduced competitors (Eeckhout and De Loecker 2017). The size of the phenomenon is so big that it has attracted the focus of media and policymakers. 

The current proof points at increasing concentration amongst national firms. Having said that, organizations from distinctive nations compete in markets that are increasingly international. Surprisingly, concentration in international markets has received almost no focus (the only try getting Freund and Sidhu 2017). In a current paper (Bonfiglioli et al. 2019), we use a exclusive transaction-level information set to study alterations in the concentration of US imports amongst 2002 and 2012. Focusing on imports permits us to complement the image arising from national production information, by enabling us to document how firms from several nations compete in the world’s biggest international market place. 

National versus international trends in concentration

Our evaluation draws on the universe of waterborne imports to the US in the years 2002 and 2012 from the Piers database (IHS Markit), which includes info which includes the complete name of the exporting firm, its nation of origin, the exported solution (according to the six-digit level of the HS classification), and the worth and quantity of each and every transaction. The final sample utilized in the evaluation comprises 1,311,835 observations at the firm-solution-year level, covering 366 manufacturing industries and 104 origin nations.

We measure business concentration applying each the share of total sales that is accrued by the 4 biggest firms in an business and the industry’s Herfindahl-Hirschman Index. We compute these measures each by business – that is, pooling firms’ sales from all origin nations – and by business and nation of origin. For comparison, we also compute the corresponding concentration measures amongst US firms from COMPUSTAT. Table 1 shows that, in the typical business, the major-4 firms account for 79% of all imports by the typical nation (Panel A) and 37% of imports from all nations (Panel B). Interestingly, concentration amongst US firms is comparable to the level observed by nation (Panel C). The table also reports alterations in the concentration indexes amongst 2002 and 2012. More than the decade, concentration amongst firms from the exact same nation barely changed. Having said that, concentration amongst firms from all nations decreased drastically – the share of sales by the major-4 firms fell by eight percentage points. Conversely, as is effectively recognized, the major-4 share amongst US firms elevated by five percentage points.

Table 1 Descriptive statistics on concentration measures

Figure 1 shows some intriguing geographical patterns in the levels and alterations in concentration across nations. From the major map of Figure 1, in 2012, concentration seems to be reduced than typical in Western Europe, India, China, and some components of Southeast Asia. It is greater in components of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Russia. The bottom map  shows that, amongst 2002 and 2012, concentration grew in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Russia, and has fallen in China and India.

Figure 1 Levels and alterations in the Herfindahl Index of concentration across nations

Decomposing trends in concentration

Possessing documented the principal trends in the information, we derive a uncomplicated decomposition that permits us to quantify the contribution of many firm-level traits to the observed alterations in concentration, as measured by major firms’ shares. Creating on Bonfiglioli et al. (2018b) and Redding and Weinstein (2018b), the traits that we can determine are: 

  1. the quantity of firms 
  2. the quantity of solutions per firm
  3. typical sales per solution and, 
  4. heterogeneity across firm-solutions. 

We execute our decompositions each at the business and at the business-origin nation level.

Focusing on the adjust in the share of sales by the major-4 firms, we come across that by far the most essential issue in explaining the fall in concentration in the US import market place is the comprehensive margin. 1st, there is a big boost in the quantity of firms that commence exporting to the US, by 27% on typical at the nation-business level and by 75% when pooling firms from all origin nations. Second, the comprehensive margin plays an essential part also inside firms. Although all firms are shedding solutions, major firms are dropping proportionally much more solutions than other firms, with a distinction of 15% versus 7% at the nation-business level and of 43% versus 10% at the business level. 

Other factors getting equal, the boost in the quantity of firms and the lower in the relative quantity of solutions by the major firms would have commanded a pervasive fall in business concentration. But the intensive margin has worked in the opposite path. The typical sales per solution of the major firms has grown drastically relative to the other firms, by 31% at the nation-business level and by 78% at the business level, thereby pushing towards increasing concentration. Interestingly, all effects are stronger when focusing on concentration from all origin nations – entry is stronger, but so is divergence of major firm-solutions. Having said that, when thinking of firms from a single origin nation, the opposite effects of the intensive and comprehensive margins virtually specifically cancel out.

As a additional step, we decompose the adjust in the intensive margin – that is, typical sales per solution of the major firms – to quantify the contribution of the typical relative appeal of major firms’ solutions and of the dispersion in appeal across major firms. While alterations in the typical appeal of major firm-solutions account for much more than 3 quarters of the adjust in the intensive margin, a sizeable fraction is accounted for by differential development inside major-firm solutions. These findings imply that firms do not develop uniformly and that the development of major solutions contributed drastically to raising business concentration.


Substantially ink has been spilled on the current boost in industrial concentration, raising issues that the advent of giant organizations could usher in an era of monopolies. Having said that, all current proof has been primarily based on national information. Our findings challenge the view that markets are becoming significantly less competitive. Concentration of US imports by nation of origin has remained steady even though it has fallen drastically when pooling firms from all origins. The sheer boost in the quantity of firm-solutions exported to the US suggests that the general level of competitors could have intensified rather than fallen, even if the quantity of US getting into firms has declined. 

These benefits recommend a much more benign view, according to which national concentration and international competitors coexist and could be two sides of the exact same coin – increasing international competitors could force unproductive firms to exit and major-firms to consolidate on their finest solutions (Mayer et al. 2014). Having said that, they also show that firms are increasing much more and much more unequal, a acquiring confirmed in many research (Bonfiglioli et al. 2018a, 2019, Dunne et al. 2004, Faggio et al. 2010). Improved understanding the causes and consequences of this approach is consequently an essential avenue for future study.


Autor, D, D Dorn, L F Katz, C Patterson and J Van Reenen (2017), “The fall of the labor share and the rise of superstar firms,” NBER Working paper no 23396.

Bonfiglioli, A, R Crinò and G Gancia (2018a), “Betting on exports: Trade and endogenous heterogeneity,” Financial Journal 128: 612–651.

Bonfiglioli, A, R Crinò and G Gancia (2018b), “Firms and financial overall performance: A view from trade,” CEPR Discussion paper 12829.

Bonfiglioli, A, R Crinò and G Gancia (2019), “Concentration in international markets: Proof from US imports,” CEPR Discussion paper 13566.

De Loecker, J and J Eeckhout (2017), “The rise of market place energy and the macroeconomic implications,” NBER Working paper no 23687.

Dunne, T, L Foster, J Haltiwanger and K Troske (2004), “Wage and productivity dispersion in US manufacturing: The part of laptop or computer investments,” Journal of Labor Economics 22: 397–429.

Faggio, G, K Salvanes and J Van Reenen (2010), “The evolution of inequality in productivity and wages: Panel information proof,” Industrial and Corporate Alter 19: 1919–1951.

Freund, C and M D Pierola (2015), “Export superstars,” Assessment of Economics and Statistics 97: 1023–1032.

Freund, C and D Sidhu (2017), “Worldwide competitors and the rise of China,” PIIE, Operating Paper 17-three.

Mayer, T, M Melitz and G Ottaviano (2014), “Market place size, competitors, and the solution mix of exporters,” American Financial Assessment 104(two): 495–536.

Redding, S and D Weinstein (2018b), “Accounting for trade patterns,” Mimeo, Columbia University.

Rossi-Hansberg, E, P-D Sarte and N Trachter (2018), “Diverging trends in national and regional concentration,” CEPR, Discussion paper 13174.