Size-dependent Policy and Firm Growth

Author Name HOSONO Kaoru (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / TAKIZAWA Miho (Toyo University) / TSURU Kotaro (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. May 2017 17-E-070
Research Project Microeconometric Analysis of Firm Growth
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Governments in most countries regulate, tax, and subsidize firms depending on whether firm size is larger or smaller than some preset thresholds. Firms that remain below the thresholds can receive benefits from the government, but may incur costs or distortions that could arise from being below the optimal size without such policies. Such benefits and costs are likely to depend on firm and industry characteristics. Using the policy reform in Japan that raised the thresholds as a natural experiment, we examine (1) whether and to what extent the distribution of firm size is distorted due to the presence of the thresholds, (2) the characteristics of firms that grow beyond the thresholds, and (3) how firms that grow beyond the thresholds perform as compared to those that remain below the thresholds. We have obtained evidence for some, although not all, industries as follows. First, bunching and its shift can be found at the thresholds in the size distribution in terms of stated capital. Second, capital structure is distorted under the threshold of stated capital. Third, firms with lower productivity are more likely to be small and medium enterprises (SMEs) after the policy reform. Finally, while the ex-post research and development (R&D) intensity of firms that grew to large firms decreases as compared to those that remain as SMEs, the ex-post profitability and productivity of firms that grew to large firms increase. Overall, our results suggest that size-dependent policies in Japan cause distortions on firms' financial policy, R&D, and operating performance. However, the degree of such distortions greatly differs across industries.