Essays on Firm Heterogeneity with Empirical Applications in Economic History and Agricultural Economics

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Chernoff, Alexander
Firm Heterogeneity, Productivity
This thesis uses models of firm-heterogeneity to complete empirical analyses in economic history and agricultural economics. In Chapter 2, a theoretical model of firm heterogeneity is used to derive a statistic that summarizes the welfare gains from the introduction of a new technology. The empirical application considers the use of mechanical steam power in the Canadian manufacturing sector during the late nineteenth century. I exploit exogenous variation in geography to estimate several parameters of the model. My results indicate that the use of steam power resulted in a 15.1 percent increase in firm-level productivity and a 3.0-5.2 percent increase in aggregate welfare. Chapter 3 considers various policy alternatives to price ceiling legislation in the market for production quotas in the dairy farming sector in Quebec. I develop a dynamic model of the demand for quotas with farmers that are heterogeneous in their marginal cost of milk production. The econometric analysis uses farm-level data and estimates a parameter of the theoretical model that is required for the counterfactual experiments. The results indicate that the price of quotas could be reduced to the ceiling price through a 4.16 percent expansion of the aggregate supply of quotas, or through moderate trade liberalization of Canadian dairy products. In Chapter 4, I study the relationship between farm-level productivity and participation in the Commercial Export Milk (CEM) program. I use a difference-in-difference research design with inverse propensity weights to test for causality between participation in the CEM program and total factor productivity (TFP). I find a positive correlation between participation in the CEM program and TFP, however I find no statistically significant evidence that the CEM program affected TFP.
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