Publications of Brown, J.D.

Creating productive jobs in East European transition economies: a synthesis of firm-level studies

The challenge for labour market policy in the new member states and other transition economies of Eastern Europe has been to redress the sharp drops in employment and rises in unemployment in a way that fosters the creation of productive jobs. This paper first documents the magnitude and productivity of job and worker reallocation. It then investigates the effects of privatisation, product and labour market liberalisation, and obstacles to growth in the new private sector on reallocation and its productivity in Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. We find that market reform has resulted in a large increase in the pace of job reallocation, particularly that occurring between sectors and via firm turnover. Unlike under central planning, the job reallocation during the transition has contributed significantly to aggregate productivity growth. Privatisation has not only stimulated intrasectoral job reallocation, but the reallocation is more productive than that among remaining state firms. The estimated effect of privatisation on firm productivity is usually positive, but it varies considerably across countries. The productivity gains from privatisation have generally not come at the expense of workers, but are associated rather with increased wages and employment.

Understanding the contributions of reallocation to productivity growth: lessons from a comparative firm-level analysis

We analyze comprehensive manufacturing firm data to measure the contribution of inter-firm employment reallocation to aggregate productivity growth during the socialist and reform periods in six transition economies. Modifying a standard decomposition technique to better reflect the role of firm entry, we find that reallocation rates and productivity contributions are very low under socialism, but they rise dramatically after reforms, and productivity contributions greatly exceed those observed in market economies. Early in transition, more reform is associated with larger contributions from reallocation, but later, and on average over the whole transition, this relationship is reversed. Though reallocation rates are larger in faster reforming economies, higher productivity dispersion in slower reformers creates higher productivity gains for a given volume of reallocation. The results imply that reallocation should be viewed as necessary regular maintenance for a well-functioning economy, and particularly large productivity contributions tend to reflect previous neglect more than current virtue.

Helping Hand or Grabbing Hand? State Bureaucracy and Privatization Effectiveness

Why have economic reforms aimed at reducing the role of the state been successful in some cases but not others? Are reform failures the consequence of leviathan states that hinder private economic activity, or of weak states unable to implement policies effectively and provide a supportive institutional environment? We explore these questions in a study of privatization in postcommunist Russia. Taking advantage of large regional variation in the size of public administrations, and employing a multilevel re-search design that controls for pre-privatization selection in the estimation of regional privatization effects, we examine the relationship between state bureaucracy and the impact of privatization on firm productivity. We find that privatization is more effective in regions with relatively large bureaucracies. Our analysis suggests that this effect is driven by the impact of bureaucracy on the post-privatization business environment, with better institutional support and less corruption when bureaucracies are large.

The productivity effects of privatization in Ukraine: estimates from comprehensive manufacturing firm panel data, 1989-2005

This paper estimates the effect of domestic and foreign privatization on multifactor productivity (MFP) using long panel data for nearly the universe of initially state-owned manufacturing firms in Ukraine. The longitudinal dimension of the data is used to measure and control for pre-privatization selection bias and to estimate long-run impacts. The data imply steadily increasing MFP as a result of domestic privatization, reaching about 25 percent relative to state-owned firms after six years. Until recently, Ukraine has had relatively few cases of privatization to foreign investors, and estimates of the MFP impact are more sensitive to controls for selection bias, but the results suggest foreign privatization produces a productivity advantage of about 40 percent in 2004-2005.

Job reallocation and productivity growth in the Ukrainian transition

We analyse the pace and patterns of job reallocation in Ukraine using 1992-2000 panel data on nearly the universe of continuing manufacturing firms inherited from the Soviet Union. Employment growth displays a substantial increase in heterogeneity during this transition period, with a corresponding rise in excess job reallocation. Unlike data for Soviet Russia in the 1980s, Ukrainian job reallocation in the 1990s was clearly productivity enhancing, both within and across industries. The speed of the increase in reallocation and its effect on aggregate productivity was somewhat slower than in Russia, however, perhaps reflecting the more 'gradualist' reform strategy in Ukraine.

The productivity effects of privatization: Longitudinal estimates from Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine

This paper estimates the effect of privatization on multifactor productivity using comprehensive panel data on initially state-owned manufacturing firms in four economies. We exploit the data's longitudinal dimension to control for preprivatization selection and estimate long-run impacts. The estimates are robust to functional form but sensitive to selection controls. Our preferred random growth estimates imply positive multifactor productivity effects of 15 percent in Romania, 8 percent in Hungary, and 2 percent in Ukraine, but a -3 percent effect in Russia. The foreign privatization effect is larger (18-35 percent) in all countries. Positive domestic effects appear immediately in Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine and continue growing thereafter, but emerge only five years after privatization in Russia.

Wages, layoffs, and privatization: evidence from Ukraine

This paper estimates the effects of privatization on worker separations and wages using retrospective data from a national probability sample of Ukrainian households. Detailed worker characteristics are used to control for compositional differences and to assess types of observable "winners" and "losers" from privatization. Pre-privatization worker-firm matches are used to control for unobservables in worker and firm selection. The results imply privatization reduces wages by five percent and cuts the layoff probability in half. Outside investor ownership reduces separations but leaves wages unaffected. Winners from privatization tend to be higher skilled employees of larger firms, but there is no discernible relationship with gender, education, or experience.

The microeconomics of creating productive jobs : a synthesis of firm-level studies in transition economies

The challenge for labor market policy in the transition economies has been to redress the sharp drops in employment and rises in unemployment in a way that fosters the creation of productive jobs. The authors first document the magnitude and productivity of job and worker reallocation. Then they investigate the effects of privatization, product and labor market liberalization, and obstacles to growth in the new private sector on reallocation and its productivity in Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. The authors find that market reform has resulted in a large increase in the pace of job reallocation, particularly that occurring between sectors and through firm turnover. Unlike under central planning, the job reallocation during the transition has contributed significantly to aggregate productivity growth. Privatization has not only stimulated intrasectoral job reallocation, but the reallocation is more productive than that among remaining state firms. The effect of privatization on firm productivity varies considerably across countries and is not always positive. The productivity gains from privatization have generally not come at the expense of workers but are rather associated with increased wages and employment.

Nonstandard forms and measures of employment and unemployment in transition: a comparative study of Estonia, Romania, and Russia

This paper looks behind the standard, publicly available labor force statistics relied upon in most studies of transition economy labor markets. We analyze microdata on detailed labor force survey responses in Russia, Romania, and Estonia to measure nonstandard, boundary forms and alternative definitions of employment and unemployment. Our calculations show that measured rates are quite sensitive to definition, particularly in the treatment of household production (subsistence agriculture), unpaid family helpers, and discouraged workers, while the categories of part-time work and other forms of marginal attachment are still relatively unimportant. We find that tweaking the official definitions in apparently minor ways can produce alternative employment rates that are sharply higher in Russia but much lower in Romania and slightly lower in Estonia, and alternative unemployment rates that are sharply higher in Romania and moderately higher in Estonia and Russia.

Wages, layoffs, and privatization: evidence from Ukraine

This paper estimates the effects of privatization on worker separations and wages using retrospective data from a national probability sample of Ukrainian households. Detailed worker characteristics are used to control for compositional differences and to assess types of observable "winners" and "losers" from privatization. Preprivatization worker-firm matches are used to control for unobservables in worker and firm selection. The results imply that privatization reduces wages by 5 percent and cuts the layoff probability in half. Outside investor ownership reduces separations but leaves wages unaffected. Winners from privatization tend to be higher skilled employees of larger firms, but there is no discernable relationship with gender, education, or experience.

What makes small firms grow? Finance, human capital, technical assistance, and the business environment in Romania

Although the development of a new private sector is generally considered crucial to economic transition, there has been little empirical research on the determinants of start-up firm growth. This article analyzes panel data on 297 new small enterprises in Romania with detailed annual information from the start-up date through 2001. Controlling for heterogeneity with a rich set of firm characteristics and firm fixed effects, our panel regressions imply that access to external credit substantially increases both employment and sales growth. Entrepreneurial characteristics such as gender and education have weaker estimated effects. Neither technical assistance nor a wide variety of measures of the business environment (contract enforcement, property rights, and corruption) have any clear association with firm growth.

Does privatization hurt workers? Lessons from comprehensive manufacturing firm panel data in Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine

We estimate the effects of privatization on firm-level wages and employment in four transition economies. Applied to longitudinal data on manufacturing firms, our fixed effect and random trend models consistently fail to support workers' fears of job losses from privatization, and they never imply large negative effects on wages; only for domestic privatization in Hungary and Russia are small (3-5%) negative wage effects found. Privatization to foreign investors has positive estimated impacts on both employment and wages in all four countries. The negligible consequences of domestic privatization for workers result from effects on scale, productivity, and costs that are large but offsetting in Hungary and Romania, and from small effects of all types in Russia and Ukraine. The positive employment outcome under foreign ownership results from a substantial scale-expansion effect that dominates the productivity-improvement effect, and the positive wage outcome from a productivity effect that dominates the effect on cost reduction.

The productivity effects of privatization: longitudinal estimates from Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine

This paper estimates the effect of privatization on multifactor productivity (MFP) using long panel data for nearly the universe of initially state-owned manufacturing firms in four economies. We exploit the key longitudinal feature of our data to measure and control for pre-privatization selection bias and to estimate long-run impacts. We find that the magnitudes of our estimates are robust to alternative functional forms, but sensitive to how we control for selection. Our preferred random growth models imply that majority privatization raises MFP about 15% in Romania, 8% in Hungary, and 2% in Ukraine, while in Russia it lowers it 3%. Privatization to foreign rather than domestic investors has a larger impact, 18-35%, in all countries. Positive domestic effects appear within a year in Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine and continue growing thereafter, but take 5 years after privatization to emerge in Russia.

Job reallocation and productivity growth in the Ukrainian transition

We analyze the pace and patterns of job reallocation in Ukraine using 1992-2000 panel data on nearly the surviving universe of manufacturing firms inherited from the Soviet Union. Employment growth displays substantial increase in heterogeneity during this transition period, with a corresponding rise in excess job reallocation. Unlike data for Soviet Russia in the 1980s, Ukrainian job reallocation in the 1990s was clearly productivity-enhancing, both within and across industries. The paper also estimates the effects of firm and market characteristics on the magnitude of reallocation and on the extent to which it has contributed to aggregate productivity growth.

Does privatization raise productivity? Evidence from comprehensive panel data on manufacturing firms in Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine

We analyze the impact of privatization on multifactor productivity (MFP) using long panel data for nearly the universe of initially state-owned manufacturing firms in four economies. Controlling for firm and industry-year fixed effects and employing a wide variety of measurement approaches, we estimate that majority privatization raises MFP about 28 percent in Romania, 22 percent in Hungary, and 3 percent in Ukraine, with some variation across specifications, while in Russia it lowers it about 4 percent. Privatization to foreign rather than domestic investors has a larger impact (about 44 percent) and is much more consistent across countries. The positive effects emerge within a year in Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine and continue to grow thereafter, but are still ambiguous even after 5 years in Russia. Pre-privatization MFP exceeds that of firms remaining state-owned in all countries, implying that cross-sectional estimates overstate privatization effects. The patterns of the estimated effects cast doubt on a number of explanations for "when privatization works."

Economic reforms and productivity-enhancing reallocation in the post-soviet transition

How do economic reforms affect resource reallocation processes and their contributions to productivity growth? This paper studies the consequences of enterprise privatization and liberalization of product markets, labor markets, and imports in the former Soviet Republics of Russia and Ukraine. Analyzing interfirm reallocation of output, labor, capital, and an input index with annual industrial census data from 1985 to 2001, we find that Soviet Russia displayed low reallocation rates that bore little relationship to relative labor and multifactor productivity across firms. Since reforms began, resource flows have increased in both countries, and their contributions to aggregate productivity growth have become substantial through increased flows from less productive to more productive continuing firms and through higher exits of less productive entities – i.e., through creative destruction. Among the policy factors that may explain firm-level variation, privatization is estimated to have positive effects on productivity-enhancing reallocation, but there is less evidence of such effects from domestic product market competition, labor market competition, or import penetration.

The reallocation of workers and jobs in Russian industry – New evidence on measures and determinants

Gross job and worker flows in Russian industry are studied using panel data from a survey of 530 firms selected through national probability sampling. The data permit examination of several crucial measurement issues, including the timing and definition of employment and the role of reorganizations, and they contain rich information on firm characteristics. We find that new and reorganized firms display larger flows than unreorganized enterprises. Product market dispersion and managerial and dispersed outsider ownership are associated with greater worker churning, and unionization and concentrated outsider ownership with less. There is little evidence that the average firm's employment adjustments have become more responsive to adjustment costs during the transition, but private ownership and product market competition appear to increase responsiveness.

What makes small firms grow? Finance, human capital, technical assistance, and the business environment in Romania

Although the development of a new private sector is generally considered crucial to economic transition and development, there has been little empirical research on the determinants of startup firm growth. This paper uses panel data techniques to analyze a survey of 297 new s small enterprises in Romania containing detailed information from the startup date through 2001. We find strong evidence that access to external finance (loans) increases the growth of both employment and sales. Taxes appear to constrain growth. There is some evidence that entrepreneurial skills increase growth, but only weak evidence for the effectiveness of technical assistance, and only when it is provided by foreign partners or international agencies. A wide variety of alternative measures of the business environment (contract enforcement, property rights, and corruption) are tested, but are found to have little or no association with firm growth.

Gross job flows in Russian industry before and after reform : has destruction become more creative ?

We analyze annual census data from 1985 to 1999 for old Russian manufacturing firms to calculate the magnitude, covariates, and productivity consequences of gross job flows before and after reforms. The job creation rate was low throughout the period but increased slightly after 1991, while job destruction, reallocation, excess reallocation, and employment growth dispersion rose markedly. The association of excess reallocation with firm size, wages, labor productivity, and capital intensity became clearly negative postreform. Job reallocation was unrelated to labor productivity growth under socialism, but recent contributions were strongly positive. Privatization and competition did not increase job flows, but they became associated with significantly higher covariance of employment growth with relative productivity, suggesting that they may have helped to focus job destruction in firms with the lowest productivity.

The reallocation of workers and jobs in Russian industry – New evidence on measures and determinants

Gross job and worker flows in Russian industry are studied using panel data from a recent survey of 530 firms selected through national probability sampling. The data permit an examination of several important measurement issues-including the timing and definition of employment, the roles of split-ups and mergers, and the relative magnitudes of rehiring and new hiring and of quits and layoffs-and they contain a rich set of firm characteristics that may affect job and worker turnover. The results imply that job destruction and worker separation rates in industrial firms rose in the early 1990s, as did job flows as a fraction of worker flows and layoffs as a fraction of separations. By contrast, job creation and worker hiring rates were flat until 1999, the former low and the latter surprisingly high. Heterogeneity in individual firm behavior increased throughout. New firms and old enterprises that have been reorganized display much larger flows compared with unreorganized enterprises. Unions appear to reduce worker flows, but the structure of neither product nor labor markets shows a significant impact. Private ownership has ambiguous effects: insider ownership, particularly by managers, is associated with higher worker flows and excess job reallocation, while outsider ownership, particularly by blockholders, is associated with lower flow rates. A measure of adjustment costs constructed from the worktime necessary to hire and train a new employee is strongly related to variables usually associated with adjustment costs, including worker wage, education, firm size, capital intensity, and labor productivity, but only weakly to job and worker turnover. Little evidence is found that firms' employment adjustments have become more sensitive to adjustment costs during the transition, but worker and manager ownership are associated with more sensitivity than are other types of ownership.

Job reallocation and productivity growth under alternative economic systems and policies : evidence from the Soviet transition

How do economic policies and institutions affect job reallocation processes and their consequences for productivity growth? This paper studies the extreme case of economic system change and alternative transitional policies in the former Soviet Republics of Russia and Ukraine. Exploiting annual industrial census data from 1985 to 2000, we find that Soviet Russia displayed job flow behavior quite different from market economies, with very low rates of job reallocation that bore little relationship to relative productivity across firms and sectors. Since liberalization began, the pace, heterogeneity, and productivity effects of job flows have increased substantially. The increases occurred more quickly in rapidly reforming Russia than in "gradualist" Ukraine, as did the estimated effects of privatization and competitive pressures from product and labor markets on excess job reallocation and on the productivity-enhancing effects of job flows.

Gross job flows in Russian industry before and after reform : has destruction become more creative ?

This Paper uses 1985-99 manufacturing census data for old Russian enterprises to calculate the magnitude and productivity effects of gross job flow rates before and after reforms. Job creation was low throughout the period in this sector, but increased slightly during the transition, while job destruction rose markedly. Heterogeneity in firm employment change also increased significantly. Intra- and inter-sectoral job reallocation had no effect on aggregate labour productivity during the socialist period, while they have made a strong positive contribution during the transition. Privatization and product market competition have not led to greater job destruction overall, but rather have helped to focus the destruction in the firms with the lowest productivity.

Privatization, competition and reform strategies : theory and evidence from Russian enterprise panel data

A critical, but largely unexamined assumption in the debate over reform policy design, concerns the complementarity or substitutability of market competition and private ownership in increasing firm efficiency. We analyse a simple Cournot model that distinguishes two aspects of privatization interacting with market opening: privatization of a firm and privatization of its competitors. Under plausible conditions, the model implies that privatizing a firm is a substitute for exposing it to competitive markets, but privatizing its competitors is complementary. Our empirical analysis uses augmented 3-factor translog production functions estimated on 1992-99 panel data for 13,288 Russian manufacturing enterprises. We find that nonstate ownership of a firm reduces the marginal efficiency impact from product market dispersion, but the share of its competitors that are nonstate increases this marginal impact. Disaggregating nonstate ownership, we find that the shares of competitors in all three nonstate types are complementary with dispersed market structure, where the strongest complementarity involves foreign ownership. The evidence suggests that an important indirect impact of private ownership may be the intensification of market competition, and thus that competition only among state-owned enterprises may be ineffectual in stimulating them to increase efficiency.

Competition and firm performance : lessons from Russia

The 'big-bang' liberalization of the inefficient Russian economy in 1992 provides a fruitful setting for analysing the impact of several dimensions of market competition and other factors on enterprise efficiency. We analyse 1992-1998 panel data on 14,961 enterprises covering 75 percent of industrial employment, emphasizing the varied sources, geographic scope, intensity, time path, and survival effects of competitive pressures. We find large, positive effects on TFP from competition in domestic product and local labour markets, and from imports and better transportation infrastructure, although the first effect appears only gradually. Non-state firms outperform state enterprises, even after correction for selection bias.