Grant Category

Market Structure

Are markets becoming less competitive and, if so, why, and what are the larger implications?

The premise of a market economy is that broad-based economic gains come from a well-functioning market. Yet there is evidence that growing economic inequality is undermining our society’s ability to act collectively in pursuit of the nation’s welfare. When stakeholders who comprise economic systems subvert institutions for their own gain, the economy loses. If markets are becoming less competitive, the resulting increase in monopoly power could be contributing to these problems.

New data-driven research provides more evidence that markets are increasingly concentrated and that, in many cases, this is indicative of a reduction in competition. Markups, the traditional measure of monopoly power, are growing. Investment and new business start-ups have been falling steadily even as corporate profits are rising. At the same time, labor income as a share of national income is falling. Does the economy suffer from a monopoly problem and, if so, why, and what are the larger implications?

We are interested in research from an aggregate perspective, which has been common in the macroeconomic and labor literatures, as well as sectoral analysis that has been the focus of industrial organization literatures.

  • The causes of increased concentration
  • Consequences of concentration for productivity, investment, and economic growth
  • Consequences of concentration for labor markets and power

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Measuring firms’ labor market power in the United States

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This project will jointly estimate production mark-ups and labor mark-downs with manufacturing data, and estimate rent-sharing with labor when there are productivity increases in the context of firms' labor market power using Longitudinal Employer-Household data. This dataset allows for heterogeneity analysis that helps understand the types of workers facing the most anticompetitive forces. Further, the research investigates how labor market power varies across geography, industries, and time, and how policymakers can target remedies taking these factors into consideration.

Competitive effects of mergers with regulatory divestiture of assets: Evidence from airline industry

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This proposal investigates the effects of mergers in the airline industry upon price, flight frequency, and consumer welfare. Specifically, it will investigate the competitive effects of the merger between US Airways and American Airlines in 2013 and ask whether (or to what extent) the structural remedies required by the U.S. Department of Justice mitigated the expected loss in consumer welfare. In doing so, the investigator seeks to provide a framework for antitrust authorities to approach welfare implications of future airline-related mergers and joint ventures when airport slots are involved.

A unified analysis of declining dynamism and rising mark-ups

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

Using restricted access, revenue-enhanced data from the Longitudinal Business Database to estimate mark-ups for the full economy, this project seeks to examine whether slowing labor force growth contributes to the decline in new business startups and to increasing mark-ups.

Labor market concentration and welfare

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $60,000

Grant Type: academic

This project will examine how mergers have affected competition in the U.S. labor market from 1976 to 2014. The researchers will use the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Business Database from 1976 to 2014, in conjunction with a new theoretic framework of oligopsony, to measure the effects of mergers on monopsony power and labor market outcomes, including labor’s share of income and welfare. In addition, they will use the Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics database from 1992 to 2014 to measure how mergers differentially affect low- and high-wage workers, and how these effects differ systematically by characteristics of the worker’s labor market, such as number of firms, and concentration. They will measure job mobility and subsequent earnings losses for those displaced following a merger, thus linking mergers to income inequality and the rich literature on earnings losses of displaced workers.

The causal effect of antitrust enforcement

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $77,000

Grant Type: academic

This project will construct a comprehensive database of antitrust enforcement actions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission against firms and individuals between 1890 and 2017. The authors will link this database to industry-level economic outcomes and to restricted firm-level tax records from the IRS and the U.S. Census Bureau, including the Economic Census, the Longitudinal Business Database, and the Standard Statistical Establishment List in order to measure the effect of antitrust enforcement on economic output. Two identification strategies will be used to measure the effect of antitrust enforcement. The first strategy involves investigating the appointment of Thurman Arnold to lead the DOJ Antitrust Division in a difference-in-difference framework, relying on detailed information about each case Arnold brought against firms. The second will use the modern-day random assignment of federal appellate judges to antitrust lawsuits and a Lasso-based econometric framework to measure the effect of procompetitive and anticompetitive judges on firms and industries.

Business dynamics on American Indian Reservations: Understanding the role of the gaming industry and secondary employment growth

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $70,000

Grant Type: academic

This project will investigate whether large-anchor economic development projects in relatively isolated rural areas provide spillover economic effects into other industries. Specifically, the authors will provide community-level analysis of business expansion and contraction by community type and characteristics for American Indian Reservations and adjacent communities. Using data going back to the 2000s, the project will examine the impact of the gaming industry on noncasino business establishments and their expansion (prior to the Great Recession of 2007–2009) in order to assess whether the development of the gaming industry has had a spillover impact on employment in these regions. The data allows the researchers to follow whether ancillary businesses (in the transportation, food services, retail operations, and lodging services industries) start up or expand in order to service the gaming industry. It will build upon previous data work allowing for the identification of whether an establishment is located on or off of an American Indian Reservation.

Experts

Grantee

Suresh Naidu

Columbia University

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Grantee

Carlos Avenancio

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Grantee

Devah Pager

Harvard University

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Guest Author

Kevin Rinz

U.S. Census Bureau

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Grantee

Joan C. Williams

University of California, Hastings College of Law

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