Would digitalization at firm level strengthen firms’ resilience to shocks? And if so, could fiscal policy play any role to promote firm-level digitalization? This paper empirically explores answers to these questions. Based on a local projection method (using the Orbis data covering 1.8 million non-financial firms from 53 countries), we estimate the impacts of aggregate uncertainty shocks on firms’ sales, profit margin, and employment. The findings suggest that uncertainty shocks affect digitalized and less-digitalized firms very differently. Digitalized firms weather shocks better, with smaller drops in sales and profits, while less-digitalized ones are worse off, with long-lasting scars. Then we examine the impact of fiscal interventions to promote firms’ digitalization, using cross-country panel data (covering 64 countries). The result suggests that aligning the tax regime on digital services with general taxation principles and competitive procurement rules on digital products could effectively support the promotion of firm-level digitalization. Overall, our findings point that firm-level digitalization would help strengthen firms’ resilience to a shock, and fiscal interventions can play an important role to promote firm-level digitalization.
Mr. Federico J. Díez, Mr. Davide Malacrino, and Mr. Ippei Shibata
We use firm-level data from 10 European countries to establish several new stylized facts about firms’ labor market power. First, we find the pervasive presence of labor market power across countries and sectors, measured by average and median markdowns above unity. Second, focusing on the dynamics, we find that weighted average markdowns have increased 1.3 percent between 2000 and 2017. However, median and unweighted average markdowns have actually decreased over the same time period, suggesting the existence of divergent paths across the markdown distribution. Third, we show that high-markdown firms tend to have a large footprint in both their product and input (labor) markets, and are most commonly listed and found among services sectors. Finally, a Melitz-Polanec decomposition of the change in weighted average markdown finds that the increase has been driven by a reallocation of resources towards high-markdown incumbents and by the extensive margin via the net entry of high-markdown firms while, in contrast, there was a decline in within-firm markdowns. Our findings highlight the importance of using granular and broad-based data for a thorough analysis of firms’ labor market power.
Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, Christoph Grimpe, and Wolfgang Sofka
We investigate the effect of R&D subsidies on firms’ innovation by ownership, industry, and firm size using German firm-level data. The impact of R&D subsidies is heterogeneous across industries for multinational corporations (MNCs) and domestic firms while it does not differ substantially by firm size. Domestic firms have a larger response in R&D spending in low-tech manufacturing, knowledge-intensive services, and technological services while the response of domestic and foreign MNCs is broadly similar and is greater in medium-tech and high-tech manufacturing. Foreign MNC subsidiaries’ response in terms of patents is greater than that of domestic MNCs in most industries.
This paper examines gender inequality in the context of structural transformation and rebalancing in China. We document declining women's relative wages and labor force participation in China during the last two decades, despite rapid growth and expansion of the service sector. Using household data, we provide evidence consistent with a U-shaped relationship between economic development and women's labor market outcomes. Using a model of structural transformation, we show that labor market barriers for women have increased over time. Model counterfactuals suggest that removing these barriers and increasing service sector productivity can boost both gender equality and economic growth in China.
The paper uses firm-level data to assess the financial health of the Vietnamese non-financial corporate sector on the eve of pandemic. Our analysis finds that smaller domestic firms were particularly vulnerable even by regional comparison. A sensitivity analysis suggests that the COVID-19 shock will have a substantial impact on firms’ profitability, liquidity and even solvency, particularly in the hardest hit sectors that are dominated by SMEs and account for a sizeable employment share, but large firms are not immune to the crisis. Risks of default can propagate more broadly through upstream and downstream linkages to industries not directly impacted, with stresses potentially translating into an increase in corporate bankruptcies and bank fragility. Policy measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the crisis have helped alleviate liquidity pressures, but the nature of policy support may have to pivot to support the recovery.
Italy’s labor productivity in market services has declined since 2000, underperforming manufacturing and peer European countries, especially in strongly regulated sectors. A model of monopolistic competition is used to identify which service sectors would benefit more from removing entry and/or exit barriers. Using Italian firm-level data, the paper finds that sectors with high markups, such as professional services, would primarily benefit from removing entry barriers. Sectors with a large mass of unproductive firms, such as retail, would instead benefit from removing exit barriers. Policy recommendations to improve efficiency are outlined in relation to the sectoral priorities identified in the data.